Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Behind the Night Bazaar: Angela Savage

Jayne Keeney is in Chiang Mai, Thailand visiting her friend, Didier. A private investigator living in Bangkok, Jayne's usual gigs involve following wayward spouses, and getting evidence that the subject is cheating on the spouse. After the violent ending of her most recent investigation, she has turned to Didier for comfort and to forget. Soon, however, she is involved in a much more serious case involving murder, with the potential for far more risk to Jayne.

Jayne is an appealing protagonist because she is strong, independent, and courageous, yet she is not depicted as flawless, nor is she hard as nails. She has her vulnerabilities. The book's setting is attractive and believable, probably due to Angela Savage's background. She lived in Southeast Asia for six years in the 1990's. Per her blog: "Based in Vientiane, Hanoi and later Bangkok, she managed a HIV/AIDS prevention program for the Australian Red Cross that covered Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and southern China."

Within the context of the murder investigation, the book explores social and political issues: the problems of HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia, child prostitution, police corruption. But with all of these serious subjects, and the gritty action, the book retains its humor and is not too heavy or dark.

All of these elements -- an interesting female protagonist, an exotic setting, and a look at social issues within that setting -- make this a series I intend to read more of.

I almost forgot one delightful aspect of this book. Jayne and her friend Didier share a love of crime fiction, but they are devoted to very different types of books within that genre. They discuss mystery authors and crime fiction is often mentioned within the context of the story. I loved that.

Other reviews at Ms. Wordopolis Reads and Mrs. Peabody Investigates.  I mentioned the author's blog above; it is worth a look, with crime fiction reviews and other interesting posts.

19 comments:

  1. I love Jayne Keeney as a protagonist and just zip through her books. This series, which includes The Half-Child and the Dying Beach is superb, with all of the elements that I want as a crime fiction reader: interesting plot, plausible mystery, social issues, feisty, smart, independent woman protagonist, and lots of information about Thailand's flora and fauna.

    I have not only laughed through these books but pondered the serious political issues raised, and raced to google geography, sealife, history and more about Thailand.

    With this book, I found myself agreeing with Didier's serious comments about poverty.

    I recommend these books highly, and say "bravo" to Angela Savage for creating such an interesting detective and setting. Hope this series goes on for years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Kathy, a book with a lot to offer. A nicely-paced, entertaining read.

      Delete
  2. I see the blend of humour, exotic setting, and love of crime fiction as a fine balance against a serious issue like murder and the social and political issues that Angela touches upon. The cover of the book is unique.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cover is very different, Prashant. I like it because it truly reflects the story the author tells. Sometimes you wonder where publishers come up with a book cover because it does not related at all ... but not here.

      Delete
  3. Oh, so glad you enjoyed this, Tracy!!! I myself like this series very, very much. And trust, me, the next two in the series are at least as good. You're in for good reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to the rest of the books by Angela Savage, Margot.

      Delete
  4. Tracy - skimmed review as this one is waiting for me somewhere on the pile. Glad you enjoyed it. Interesting to see the crime fiction referencing in the book - Ken Bruen does (or did) it a lot. I always used to come away with a couple of books to check out after reading one of his.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you will like this book, Col. Not quite as gritty as your preferred fare, but not tame at all.

      Delete
  5. I like Jayne for the same reasons as you Tracey - she is strong and independent but not ridiculously so. I find with some female PI characters the hard-as-nails factor just goes to far to be believable. Glad you enjoyed meeting her

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a strong but balanced character. Way more adventurous than I ever was, though.

      Delete
  6. Another great sounding new author for me - thanks TracyK!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad you like the sound of this book, Sergio. Nice setting, good story.

      Delete
  7. This book has been on my radar - I really must move it up the list. You do a good job persuading me to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you would like it, Moira. I think there are some clothing descriptions, but I can't say for sure, I was paying more attention to the story.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the review. I was already aware of her work from Bernadette. Not sure I'll be adding this one to my humongous pile tho. You did such a good job in convincing me though as it sounds right up my alley. On the wishlist it goes for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keishon, I do think you would like it, but I know about the huge piles of books. Hope you get to try it some day.

      Delete
  9. Thanks for the mention, Tracy, and I'm glad you liked this one too. I'm not sure where I first discovered this series, but I'll send out a general thank you to crime fiction bloggers that put Angela Savage on my radar. In this age of closing bookstores (I lived near the first Borders) and no/few book review sections in papers, I rely on blogs for book recs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca, It is nice to have blogs that point to good reads, in this day. I get a lot of pointers from your reviews. We have a great independent bookstore in the area, with a wonderful mystery section, but still... it is hard to know what's good. I do miss having a diversity of bookstores.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete