The Monsoon Ghost Image by Tom Vater is a very dark murder mystery which takes place in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Cambodia. The book starts in late 2002, and the course of the story covers about six months. One key figure are Martin Ritter who fakes his death at the outset even though that resulted in the death of the other half-dozen people on his sailboat, which was located in the Andaman Sea off Thailand. Those deaths are only the beginning – lots of people are killed in the course of this story. After having his appearance altered by a psychopathic plastic surgeon, Dr. Suriporn, Ritter thought he was safe, but then he was still recognized, so the chase was on to find him. Another character was Fred Maier, a drunken German detective, felt like his life was no longer worth living and he descended into a severe alcoholic state in an attempt to flee the worsening world that he perceived.
The author set the stage for the dismal state of the world when he wrote, “A clear demarcation line had been drawn in the collective narrative of the brotherhood of man. People weren’t arguing about issues anymore. People were arguing about what had happened and what was happening. People were arguing about the course history had taken and was taking, about who was writing it up and how it was being broadcast and consumed, and they no longer agreed on the broad strokes. The truth was becoming just another story. For better or for worse, every certainty was fragmenting.”
As I say, this is really, really dark. Suriporn is one sick dude who uses his remarkable surgical skills for tasks that only seem to please his sick mind. As much as I like murder mysteries, this one is more frightening and sicker than most – I leave it to you to make a decision on spending time with this novel.