Vincent Calvino series belongs on every Asian crime list."
Christopher G. Moore on Vincent Calvino, Interview by Richard
Christopher recently spoke at the Pattaya City Expats club. A
summary of his talk is reported in the Pattaya Mail
Traversing, June, 2011
Bangkok Post: Tales needing telling
Papers & Nightlife Thailand
A. Evan's Vincent
Calvino's World examines the 15 book series, places it
in the context of crime fiction, as a cultural and social guide,
and a chronicle of Southeast Asia over the past 25 years.
more Infomation about the Calvino series:
Spade Reincarnated as Bangkok-based PI Vinnie Calvino
the words of Vincent Calvino
I have no attachments. Next life I will make a perfect Buddhist. But in this life I am paying off the karma of a last life. I am an ex-lawyer from New York City. No one gets himself born in New York City without having made some major mistake in past lives. Whatever that mistake was, it was bad enough to cause me to abandon New York for Bangkok. Flipped from the wok straight into the fire. For over the past two decades, I've been solving crimes in Southeast Asia, trying not to get burnt.
Bangkok. City of Angels. Only most of the halos are tarnished. Their wings are often clipped. I have been known to take cases just about anywhere in Southeast Asia. For expense and a daily fee. Getting paid is another matter. It’s never been about the money. Although my home turf is Bangkok, I have also taken jobs in Pattaya, Phnom Penh, Rangoon and Saigon.
My working turf in Bangkok covers many spheres, extending from local street restaurants and swanky shopping malls, to the notorious nightlife scenes in drinking holes frequented by Western expats, and places in between. I collect evidence in dives found in Soi Cowboy, the high rises of Sukhumvit Road, as well as in the slums of Klong Toey. You’ll find me at the racetrack at the Royal Sports Club or cooling my heels in the office of a local oligarch. I’m also a frequent visitor to Bangkok morgues, lockups and police stations. My fear is dying on the wrong side of a lock up. In the Land of Smiles when you push against the wrong people that can be arranged for the cost of an Apple watch.
They are usually the expats who live and work in Thailand: some live the good life on a fat package, others get by day to day on a nickel and dime. They are the kind of ordinary people who get themselves cheated, find themselves in a bind, or get themselves killed. However you look at it, by the time they or their next of kin walk into my office they are seriously damaged.
Greed, revenge, and business conflicts are the usual reasons people find themselves in way over their head or on the frontline where the body bags are filled with civilian casualties. Also, in a culture where the honor of ‘face’ is an inviolable taboo, making someone lose it can get you killed. In my world, most of those who arrive in the Land Smiles don't go home. Except in a box. Or they go missing. I get hired to find out how that happened. That’s when things become complicated.
My Guardian Angel
Staying alive is no easy feat when you are a foreigner whose main job is sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong in a place like Thailand. Without Pratt, I would have been dead a long time ago and long forgotten. My Shakespeare-quoting buddy Colonel Pratt is my insurance policy, my best friend, my brother. Pratt is no ordinary Thai cop. He is well educated – we met while he was studying in New York. He plays the sax. He is tough and honest and knows the hidden forces and the secret traps in the Thai world of power and influence. Keeping me alive seems to be his karma. Pratt feels he owes me. His feelings come from an old debt of gratitude that, I suspect, he believes is so large it can never be paid off.
The Culture Detective: Go to TripAdvisor for where to visit, eat and sleep in Bangkok, or anywhere else. Follow me to discover the hidden places and for what goes on beyond the tourist eye. In solving cases for my clients, I navigate the local cultural terrain in which there are many landmines. I speak the language, am familiar with the unwritten rules for the locals as well as for tourists and permanent guests. No matter how long you have lived in Southeast Asia, or how well you speak the language and understand the people and place you now call home, you are still forever an outsider.
In my line of work you become an anthropologist, turning over each leaf of the cultural banyan tree, examine it and then another, studying the nature of its life. It’s the same in the investigation business in another culture. You study the values and behavior of people and figure out how their specialized tricks, deceits, cheats, and subversions work. Without that knowledge you won’t ever find anyone who’s gone missing in Thailand. They will be forever behind the wall of cultural ignorance. My specialty is finding the door in that wall.
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