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Showing posts by: Christopher R. Cox click to see Christopher R. Cox's profile
Feb 15 2013 12:30pm

Where in the World?: Thailand Makes for Perfect Crime Film Backdrop

When it comes to eye-popping landscapes and city streets that evoke exotic, deadly intrigue, Hollywood’s go-to country for Asian locations may very well be Thailand. The kingdom boasts a variety of terrain—everything from thick jungles and vaulting limestone mountains to broad, bone-white beaches and chaotic, neon-drenched urban cores—as well as competent, relatively inexpensive movie crews.

That camera-friendly mix has been on display for nearly 40 years, ever since The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), the ninth installment of the James Bond franchise, filmed extensively in Thailand. There was the boat chase through the klongs (canals) of Bangkok, the karate school in nearby Samut Prakan province, but the real show-stopper was Scaramanga’s lair in the otherworldy archipelago of Phang-nga Bay on Thailand’s Andaman Sea coastline. The dramatic limestone island of Ko Khao Phing Kan lies about 20 miles northeast of Phuket and is notable for a massive section of rock that has cleanly sheared off—the result of thousands of years of undercutting erosion—and now leans against the remaining mountain. Punctuating the island’s small cove is the pillar of Koh Tapu (“Nail Island”), now commonly known as “James Bond Island” by every tour operator in Phuket.

[Can’t blame them for that...]

Feb 11 2013 2:00pm

A Good Death: New Excerpt

Christopher R. Cox

An excerpt of A Good Death the debut novel from Christopher R. Cox (available February 19, 2013).

Linda Watts is a beautiful, talented Southeast Asian refugee with a promising career in  finance—or she was, until she turned up dead, the victim of a heroin OD, in a cheap Bangkok guest house. Her death seemed straightforward to the Thai authorities, but her insurance company isn’t buying it. They send Boston PI Sebastian Damon halfway around the world to investigate—where he finds himself confounded and completely out of place chasing faint leads through the broken, bewildering streets of Thailand’s teeming capital. 

Chapter 1

Somewhere between the airport and downtown, in the steamy, sinking warren of Bangkok’s broken streets and stinking canals, my taxi driver began complaining. Loudly. Four hundred baht had seemed a fine fare when I slumped into his dented Toyota sedan after midnight, but now he found the thirteen-dollar amount wanting. He thought seven hundred baht a better price for a foreigner to pay. Farang always paid more. Why wouldn’t I pay more? So he had left the airport expressway, haggling while he sped along a secondary road, scattering stray dogs that had come to forage on heaps of trash beneath the faint street lighting. The Grand Babylon Hotel was nowhere in sight. Around me the night stretched away, black and molten. The moonlit reflection of rice paddies, perhaps. I had no idea where I was or where we were headed. Cambodia or Burma didn’t seem out of the question.

“First we go to Patpong,” he insisted. “Buy beer. Buy Thai lady massage.” He pumped his fist, cackling. “Good lady make you forget bad airplane. Then we go to hotel.”

He pounded the steering wheel and, without slowing the car, turned to judge my reaction. His grin was an uneven stream of silver fillings, his eyes just dark, speed-dilated pools. “For you,” he said, “six hundred baht. Special price.”

Now we were getting somewhere.

[Read the complete excerpt of A Good Death by Christopher R. Cox...]

Jan 11 2013 1:00pm

Crime and Lack of Punishment in Thailand

On the surface, Thailand boasts all the hallmarks of an exotic tropical idyll: white-sand beaches; dramatic limestone mountains; a languid, Buddhist lifestyle. Delve a little deeper and you’ll encounter a more troubling reality—a culture of impunity among the phu yai (literally, “big people”) who are used to having their way, often aided and abetted by corrupt elements of the police.

These bad actors bear more than a little responsibility for Thailand’s low ranking (88th in Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index, the same as Zambia and Swaziland), a disappointing score for a developing country with a democratically elected government.

The most recent high-profile case involves Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, 27, the grandson of the late Red Bull energy-drink tycoon Chaleo Yoovidhya. The scion of one of Thailand’s richest families, Boss was arrested in September for the fatal hit-and-run death of a Bangkok policeman. The Boss reportedly took his $1-million grey Ferrari from the family mansion out for a pre-dawn spin on Sukhumvit Road, rear-ended the motorcycle policeman, and dragged the body about 200 meters along the road before fleeing to his nearby home.

[If Red Bull had given him wings, he wouldn’t have been on the road...]

Dec 31 2012 2:00pm

Bungle in the Jungle: The Case of Donald G. Carr

Everybody in the world has a double, the saying goes. And for Donald G. Carr, a Green Beret who disappeared in Laos more than 40 years ago, that doppelganger was a German bird smuggler named Gunter Dittrich.

The two men—one a war hero missing in action, the other a small-time criminal, are forever linked by events that began in mystery and ended in acrimony. In between, the strange case of Donald Carr also touched upon cynical deceit and hidden agenda, baffling inertia and endemic distrust, blind faith and altruistic sacrifice.

It’s a story that Jay F. Sullivan, a businessman from the small town of Dover, Massachusetts, knows better than almost anyone. The Vietnam veteran chased Carr’s ghost for more than a year, a pursuit that cost him thousands of dollars and untold hours of anxiety. As his reward, Sullivan got the closest—all the way to the heart of the darkest of scams.

[Do your eyes deceive you? Yes, sometimes...]