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The Age of Dis-Consent

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The Monty Hall problem involves choosing a door with a prize as opposed to a lion that will leap out and eat you. When a crime has been committed, The Monty Hall problem provides two doors to choose from: one gives the victim revenge against the perpetrator, the other door requires the victim and perpetrator to reconcile.

What’s it going to be? Will it be a knife or a wai (or handshake)?

One of the pre-election promises of the opposition Thai political party is to grant amnesty for those charged with crimes after the coup in September 2006. The premise is, if elected, those on both sides of the political divide and their supporters who face criminal charges will be granted a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Though the details as to what conduct and what individuals is vague. Wiggle room is a Siam twin with most amnesty proposals. Finding the Goldilocks just right spot is not an easy task.

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Posted: 5/19/2011 11:04:28 PM 

 

Adventures in Wonderland Thai Style

It is the election season in Thailand and a former MP for Samut Prakan. (the Parliament was dissolved two days ago) who is from the opposition party has been shot. The Bangkok Post has run the story as No. 1 lead two days running. Everyone has a say about the botched hit. The police are quoted as having increased “security and surveillance for cash, contract gunmen, and firearms.”

That raises an interesting question as to why the police don’t look for hitmen and firearms in the non-election season. The more you read from police, military, political officials, the more that catches your eye and imagination. There can be no other place where fiction authors face such fierce competition from those employed by the state.

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Posted: 5/12/2011 10:03:18 PM 

 

Authors who write crime novels keep an eye peeled on the crime news. Living in Thailand the best crime reports are found in the Thai language press often accompanied by gruesome photographs and more often by smiling uniformed police officers standing behind suspects with that defeated, I am on my way to jail look.

Neither The Nation nor the Bangkok Post cover the local crime beat. Unless there is a high-profile foreign connection, the local crime news flows down the canal through Thai consciousness without ever causing a ripple on tranquil lives of foreigners.

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Posted: 5/5/2011 11:29:55 PM 

 

In Search of Demons

In the Vincent Calvino series the private eye has a number of people watching his back: a Royal Thai police colonel, his secretary and a friend or two. The idea of watching each other’s back isn’t confined to crime fiction. It is the staple of most novels everywhere. And there is a reason for the pervasiveness of protecting each other, providing security and support to others. We can tell a great deal about a man or woman by knowing something about the people who watch their back.

We can also tell a lot about a novelist in the way he or she writes about human collaboration. Other species collaborate but no species other than ours has refined collaboration and scaled it beyond a handful of others. It is likely that the reason there are nearly 7 billions of us is a testament to our skill at collaboration on an epic scale.

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Posted: 4/28/2011 10:42:23 PM 

 

I grew up in a world where it was expected that judges and juries would be neutral. That neutrality was an essential mechanism to resolve conflicts. Countries were also neutral. Places like Sweden and Switzerland had a long history of not taking sides, by staying on the sidelines, as other European countries took off their gloves and brawled in the streets.

I don’t recognize neutrality in the modern world. I’ve been searching everywhere for the retreating remnants of that defeated army called neutrality. People are not just expected but required to take sides. “Either you’re with us or against us,” said that great American philosopher George W. Bush. If there was ever a phrase that marked the end of an era, it came the date that phrase was uttered.

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Posted: 4/21/2011 10:10:48 PM 

 

What drives the current interest in noir fiction is that the stories validate our worst fear. There are no longer any heroes who will ride to the rescue, put things right between those in conflict. What has happened to the heroes who rose above the crowd to serve the large community interest? Or did those people always live deep in mythology and not the real world?

I write a crime series about a private eye, Vincent Calvino, who works inside a system of vanished heroes. Many of the Calvino readers like the realism of the novels and critics have commented on their authentic insight into Thai culture.

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Posted: 4/14/2011 9:26:47 PM 

 

Crime authors are accustomed to killing off characters in their novels. In this fictional world, a man’s life might not be worth more than a dime on longshoreman’s payday. We have no problem dispatching the evil, malignant, cruel, and selfish megalomaniac. In fact our readers often like those scenes when the bad guys expiry date is reached. If we reflect on this ‘liking’ for a moment, one has to admit there is a shared bond between author and reader over the necessity of killing the bad and protecting the good. We are natural born killers.

There are three intersecting worlds of killers and victims. There is the individual killer. He or she might be a hit man, a crazed ideological or religion-inspired zealot, an emotional hothead, a cold-blooded gang leader looking to keep his control and authority. We search out, arrest and punish these people. Then there are the corporate killers. Profit motive leads to killing to meet the next quarter’s results or the share price falls. Jay Gould, a famous American 19th century oligarch said, “I can hire one half the working-class to kill the other half.” That profit at any cost attitude hasn’t changed much in many parts of the world. And last, the killing machine of last resort, the one we agree has the right to kill in our name: the Nation-State.

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Posted: 4/7/2011 10:51:19 PM 

 

As a special report to you, though, I wanted to be the first to break the latest news. New legislation has been drafted and is ready to be sent to Parliament concerning ‘face.’

 

The proposed legislation to abolish the notion of ‘face’ will be announced before dissolution of the House and fresh elections. Penalties for anyone asserting, claiming, or suing for loss of face include five years imprisonment, confiscation of property, and fines up to Baht 10,000.00 (per offence).

Khun Chaiwong, chairman of the Face sub-committee has reported, that by removing ‘face’ from the social, economic, and political sphere, all of the problems of the past five years will be resolved. He says the deep division in Thai society all goes back to the concept of face. His face, your face, her face and on and on until someone’s face is smashed, lost, damaged, dented, makeup smeared and the like.

“It can get very ugly,” said Khun Chaiwong, glancing at his Rolex. The government whips have been reporting tentative support, though amendments to exclude elected MPs (government MPs that is) have been rumored.

"No face will ever be lost again"—the campaign slogan you will hear everywhere come May. The opposition is expected to reply with "the government that has stolen your children’s face doesn’t deserve your vote."*


*Happy April Fool's Day.

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Posted: 3/31/2011 10:51:49 PM 

 

There is a struggle between our sense of beauty and function. The way we draw judgments, make decisions, and assign value correlates to how we balance the relative importance of the inside of ‘something’ whether a building, a car, a book, a person, an animal and so on. Criminals also make an evaluation based on the outside and inside.
 
The amateur criminal who breaks into houses chooses the target from the ‘outside’ or the appearance. On the assumption that a house that looks rich on the outside is bound to have goods worth stealing on the inside. The professional thief seeks to find out what is inside the house first. The professional is inside orientated. He’s not stealing the beauty exterior; he’s stealing something of value inside a structure that may or may not be a marvel of design.

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Posted: 3/31/2011 10:20:09 PM 

 

Last Thursday 17th March, we launched an anthology titled: Bangkok Noir. Six of the twelve authors were able to attend the launch at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. We had a full house to an enthusiastic audience of expats and Thais. As the editor of Bangkok Noir, I had some comments about the ‘noir’ movement worldwide.

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Posted: 3/25/2011 12:18:08 AM 

 



On Thursday 17th March Bangkok Noir was launched at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand to a full house. Six authors attended and spoke about the nature of noir and their experience of writing in Bangkok. The writers attending were: John Burdett, General Vasit Dejkunjorn, Tew Bunnag, Christopher G. Moore, Collin Piprell and Dean Barrett. Colin Cotterill sent along a 'clone' who was exposed early on in the proceedings.

The photo is courtesy of Voicu Mihnea Simandan, a writer who lives in Bangkok.

Also Detectives Beyond Borders has pointed the media limelight gun in our direction:
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/2011/03/from-city-of-angels-bangkok-noir.html Thank you, Peter.

Our next event is an author's signing of Bangkok Noir at Kinokuniya, Siam Paragon Branch (3rd Floor) on Saturday 2nd April 2011 from 15.00-18.00hr.

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Posted: 3/21/2011 6:25:58 AM 

 

The new breed of crime writers

Anyone who has been to law school knows the dirty little secret of what is on offer. Three years of studying thousands of short-stories, hardboiled domestic dramas, murders, corporate fraud, corrupt cops and politicians, greedy heirs, disloyal partners, wives, siblings, beatings, traps, smacks alongside the head, crashes and smashup and that is just the first year.

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Posted: 3/17/2011 10:32:42 PM 

 

Fellow author Nick Wilgus has some great news to share. A feature film based on his novel about a monk, Father Ananda, who is a sleuth/investigator and former cop, is about to be released in Thailand.

The upcoming Thai film MINDFULNESS AND MURDER, based on Nick’s book, looks from the trailer to be a winner.

Here is a link to the official trailer:

Mindfulness and Murder is a novel in the Father Ananda Mystery series. In the same series you can find The Garden of Hell and Killer Karma. This is a great series and deserves a wider readership. If you haven’t discovered Nick’s books, you are in for a pleasant surprise and good read.

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Posted: 3/15/2011 5:31:05 AM 

 



On Tuesday 15 March Colin Cotterill and Eric Stone came to the offices of Heaven Lake Press to sign copies of Bangkok Noir. After an emergency hospital visit for writer's cramp, the two authors were put on IVs with a Singha drip attached. Though Colin demanded only water. Eric returns to Los Angeles on Thursday so can't attend the launch at the FCCT at 8.00 p.m. And Colin is off to China to speak before an audience of millions who have gathered to learn more about his Dr. Siri character.



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Posted: 3/15/2011 5:25:03 AM 

 

It’s all in the fine print

Like most economic activities in life the opportunity available is often linked with class. This is true in legal transactions. The acquisition and merger deals aren’t being conducted by people living in walkup projects in the Bronx or those living in the middle-class ‘burbs. Big deals are reserved for the big boys.

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Posted: 3/10/2011 10:00:53 PM 

 

Good news on the film front. On 8th March, Variety ran an article about FilmNation and the newly appointed COO who has given full support to the production of Spirit House as a feature film. Things are looking positive for the film going forward.

Link:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118033589...
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Posted: 3/9/2011 5:38:59 AM 

 

Two emotions that underpin a great deal of crime are a heady brew of greed stirred with desperation. Occasionally you come across a crime in which greed and desperation also are shared by the perpetrator and the victim. In this situation, it is difficult to know who is the ‘real’ criminal and who is the ‘cutout’ who will take the wrap.

Baby 101 is a university course worth of tangled psychological, economic, moral and political knots. Let’s have a look at the real-life case study in Thailand as the centerpiece of Baby 101.


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Posted: 3/3/2011 8:24:37 PM 

 

A Guide to Staying in Power

This book is not available on Amazon. There is no ebook version to download. The authors don’t put their names on the spine or the cover. Yet as events in the Middle East and elsewhere have demonstrated, the Official Killers Handbook surfaces behind the news stories on the Internet, newspapers and TV. Take the case of the CIA operative in Pakistan who, turning to Chapter 8: How to Shoot People You’ve Identified as Bad Guys When You Are Driving a Car. Raymond Davis, the operative, shot and killed two men with a Glock handgun.

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Posted: 2/24/2011 10:18:22 PM 

 

A Thai living in Boulder, Colorado was sent to jail for one year and a day for various criminal violations connected with his restaurant business. He was released on one million dollar bail and told to report to prison in 15 days.

It wasn’t one law that he broke in the United States. He managed to break a bunch of laws. And looking at the charges, knowing how things work in Thailand, I have a feeling this guy may not have seen all this bad news train coming at him. He may have suffered from a corporate cultural bias that blinkered him to the reality of the new culture where he was doing business.

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Posted: 2/17/2011 6:53:44 PM 

 

Last time I was pulled over at the elevated highway tollbooth on my way to Chon Buri province outside of Bangkok, I was asked two questions: where was I going and who was I going to see? First he checked the make, model and age of my car. And the important scan of the windscreen to see if the necessary stickers have expired. Also, the windscreen will display—for the well-connected—a status signal: it might be military, police, an elite club, etc. Decals, small bronze fender icons, and other artistic displays of power connections are important visual cues as to the relationship of power to the person seated behind the wheel. These details are digested at the point of contact with the police officer who wants to know whom he’s dealing with before getting to the issue of law.

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Posted: 2/10/2011 9:48:52 PM 

 

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