Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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On Hunting Humans….

My most recent post to promote The Monsoon Ghost Image is all about Hunting Humans….

My latest novel, The Monsoon Ghost Image, features a man hunt. One of my villains, Krieger, a German tycoon, lives on an island in the south of Thailand that has been populated with large mammals, some not indigenous to Southeast Asia. There is a historic precedent for this.
In 1977, General Marcos, the former ruler of the Philippines, had 12 bushbucks, 11 elands, 11 gazelles, 15 giraffes, 18 impalas, 12 waterbucks, 10 topis, and 15 zebras transported from Kenya to Calauit Island, off the coast of Palawan. Some thrived, others died off. In the process of establishing his safari park, Marcos evicted 250 indigenous families to a barren rock island near-by. The inhabitants returned in 1987. Since then there have been poaching issues and the co-existence between the island’s original inhabitants and the animals remains tricky. There are various stories about why Marcos imported the animals, the most plausible being that his son was a keen hunter and daddy wanted to make him happy.
My German tycoon organizes human hunts for Asian high rollers on his island, ostensibly to dispose of former US prisoners from the War on Terror that the Americans want to disappear. In return the US turn a blind eye to his Telecom deals in countries hostile to America.
A long time ago, I heard stories, largely unsubstantiated though not completely unimaginable, that something like this existed in Cambodia during the country’s civil war in the mid-1980s. Someone had told me about a so-called James Bond Club, also for Asian high rollers, who were invited to act out a 007 fantasy which included the hunt and killing of a man and sex with unfortunate women. Those who fulfilled their missions allegedly received a 007 certificate.
In The Monsoon Ghost Image, the main protagonist Detective Maier, his Russian sidekick Mikhail and Shamil, a Muslim insurgent from Chechnya, are trapped on Krieger’s island, not only threatened by the wildlife, but hunted down by a psychotic plastic surgeon called Suraporn, who has a taste for dismemberment.
The idea of the hunted man is as old as literature, and great examples I’ve read include Kidnapped (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson and The 39 Steps (1915) by John Buchan, one great espionage thriller and my favorite Hitchcock movie. Geoffrey Household’s novel Rogue Male (1939) is another classic in the genre, the story of a man who tries to kill Hitler and is then hunted by Nazis and the British police across Dorset.
In The Monsoon Ghost Image, the hunter, Suraporn, uses hypnosis with memory techniques, PWA and ideomotor suggestion to control his prey before he kills and then skilfully disfigures them by sewing animal parts to their faces. Maier and his companions are ill equipped to escape this man’s psy-ops weapons.
Nothing is created in total isolation. Writers owe everything to other writers and the stories they come across in daily life. While some of my fiction is loosely based on experiences I have made and scenes I have witnessed, a great deal is also culled, sometimes consciously, at other times instinctively, from all those stories written before I wrote.

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