Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Eclectic crime fiction and informed, irreverent non-fiction from Asia and beyond

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The Cambodian Book of the Dead reviewed at The Book Delight

The first Detective Maier novel, The Cambodian Book of the Dead, published by Crime Wave Press, has received another great review, from The Book Delight. Thanks a million.

The Characters: The novel is filled with a cast of characters that leap from the pages. Maier, the main character is well drawn, believable, and earns the reader’s sympathy straight off the mark. His cohorts range from a deeply flawed Khmer madman, women damaged by the very men who should have protected them, dissolute Europeans, and a colorful American, scarred by war and trapped in the past.  My favorite character by far was Cambodia itself. Moody, dark, strangely beautiful in all its death and decay; it’s as if Vater personified the place with his words. I felt myself swatting at mosquitoes and longing for a cold beer. I was both madly attracted to and repelled by his description of the country.   It’s clear that Mr. Vater has more than just a glancing knowledge of the place. I suspect he has Asia in his eyes. 

The History: I loved the historical aspect of this book. The story of Cambodia and its transformation from a post-colonial backwater to a broken land, strewn with land mines, a people damaged by war, death, and destruction at the hands of a madman run amok, is devastating. I saw the movie The Killing Fields, way back when and have not given the place much thought since. It’s always a pleasant surprise to read a book that not only entertains but leaves the reader with a new appreciation for the novel’s historical setting.

The Writing: Wow! Evocative, lyrical, grab you and suck you into the story, writing. I loved it. Highly descriptive, the narrative has a poetic feel to it. You can sense the humidity rising as you turn the page. Well edited and tightly paced, the story zips along, culminating in an explosive ending.

Read the full review at The Book Delight.

Buy The Cambodian Book of the Dead.

Buy the entire Detective Maier trilogy for a little more than ten bucks.

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