Among this novel's non-voyeuristic charms is the ingenious way Moore gets Calvino into that state of financial want that been a hallmark of American fictional P.I.s since Chandler and Hammett (never mind that Moore is a Canadian living in Thailand.) A lawyer client of Calvino's is killed before he can come through with the money he owes Calvino as well as the recommendation he had promised that could land Calvino a new job, including a ticket out of his office above a massage parlor.
The need for money becomes critical when one of the massage-parlor yings is murdered. Already depressed by the office's sleazy location, Calvino's invaluable assistant says she's quitting. Desperate for money that will let him buy out the lease, Calvino hooks up with a group of expatriate wives whose solace is a cooking class conducted by a bogus Italian. The women, apprehensive about the sexual temptations on offer in Bangkok, hire Calvino to track their husbands. Bangkok, after all, is ranked first on the Risk of Infidelity Index for the danger it poses to marital fidelity. And one of the women was married to the dead lawyer.
If you're reading this in North America or Europe, you may not know Moore. His name is far more familiar to readers in Asia, where his books have been translated into Thai, Chinese and Japanese. Read more about Moore and Vincent Calvino in this article from the Thrilling Detective Web site.
P.S. At least one fact about Moore's life might be of interest, especially to anyone in the legal profession. He was a law-school lecturer, according to several online sources, who chucked it all so he could move to Thailand and become a writer. Things seem to have worked out well for him, and I suspect that more than one member of the bar would out there is fantasizing about taking a similar step.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Christopher G. Moore