The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis book review: ‘Scams & Swindlers’: investment disasters to be avoided

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 14•15

BrownScamsBruce Brown’s classic Scams and Swindlers: Investment Disasters and How To Avoid Them (1998, ISBN 1-86339-201-7) flies a bit under the radar these days, but it shouldn’t, particularly for those following the increasingly strange Cambodian death saga of Canadian journalist Dave Walker. Before we get to that, here’s why the book is compelling.

Author Brown was the Regional Commissioner in the Northern Territory for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) when he wrote this book. The financial scams he describes so eloquently are, as of today, as rampant as ever, as scam artists work day and night to part honest, well-meaning people from their bank accounts and retirement income. Brown provides actual examples from the annals of the Australian court system, detailing the intricacies of each scam, and providing warnings of what to look out for when investing money. We here at WoWasis loved his explanation of the intricacies of the Ponzi scheme and were enamored of his description of how investors are sucked in by scams runs by well-known personalities and New Age philosophies. The cult of personality, as the author cautions, can be a red flag when one is asked to invest.

So what makes it particularly interesting today, some 15 years after the book was written? It’s the chapter on scam artist James Guido Eglitis, who, under his assumed name of James Keuning, was banned for life from dealing in Futures by ASIC, after serving a term of four years in U.S. prisons for similar offenses before being deported.

Somehow, Eglitis has gotten himself involved in the death investigation of Dave Walker, as described in freelance journalist Andrew Drummond’s blog. It makes for interesting reading. As Drummond notes, Eglitis, who appears to be additionally using the pseudonyms of James An and Siu Jia (“Big Tree” in Cambodian), is currently on the run from Australia for fleeing bail in Queensland on charges including kidnapping and impersonating a police officer. And according to Drummond, he’s at it again, passing himself off, among various occupations, as both a U.S. ICE (Immigration and Customs) and an Australian Federal Police officer as well, asking questions regarding Walkers’ disappearance and death. And no one seems sure as to the reason.

CambodiaSoutheast Asia, Thailand and Cambodia in particular, are magnets for world-class scam artists who, rather than keeping a low profile, seem to revel in the joys of bribing police and running various and sundry financially successful businesses, which often include adult entertainment operations. But that’s another book. We can’t wait for it to be written, especially if the author lives long enough to see it published.

For today’s readers, Scams and Swindlers has particular interest for those interested in some of the more nefarious characters in the Southeast Asian expat community. But all readers with the financial wherewithal to become involved in investing money will love this book. Bruce Brown doesn’t pull any punches and makes it understandable enough that there’s plenty for the lay reader to digest and strongly consider prior to giving away the family fortune.

WoWasis book review: ‘Americans In Thailand,’ a comprehensive history

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 12•15

AmericansInThailandBookCoverIf you’re like us here at WoWasis, you may very well be scratching your head, wondering why anyone would buy a book on a subject seemingly as narrow as the contributions of the citizens of North America to a country in Asia. We loved the book through. And think you will, too, especially if you have an interest in the history of Thailand. It’s surprisingly comprehensive and complex. As is brought out brilliantly and forcefully Americans in Thailand (2015, ISBN 978-981-4385-84), the actions and contributions of North Americans can’t easily be ignored. And it all starts out long ago.

This 300 page, handsomely illustrated book is the product of the work of six editors, Jim Algie, Denis Gray, Nicholas Grossman, Jeff Hodson, Robert Horn, and Wesley Hsu. The book follows a historical chronology, dating from early traders and missionaries and runs up to the present. We found ourselves taking tons of notes: who knew a missionary was responsible for the first Thai font?

There’s so much to read here, every page an unveiling. For our eyes, the most compelling stories involved the Siamese Twins, Cheng and Eng, Bangkok Post publisher Alex MacDonald, Tony Poe and American CIA and military involvement, and Father Joe Maier. But that’s only scratching the surface. The authors don’t gloss over much, either, referring to books such as ‘The King Never Smiles,’ which cannot be obtained in Thailand due to censorship laws. And speaking of writing, the contributions of noted expat writers, such as Dean Barrett, Christopher G. Moore (a Canadian? He’s North American, too), Harold Stephens, and Bernard Trink are discussed as well. The pages devoted to entrepreneur Bill Heinecke are fascinating.

For the scholar, the book contains dozens of references to other books that elaborate on many of the stories, included in the text. We ordered several of these while in the midst of reading the book. We wanted to know more. The index is a good one, and so is the seven page bibliography. We might have preferred that the book had footnotes, but that’s a nit-pick, as in-text references abound.

There are an estimated 30,000 Yanks living in Thailand and this book should fascinate all of them. It’s also a great bedside companion to those sitting at home, away from Thailand, enjoying memories past or thinking about future adventures. It’s highly recommended as a fascinating compilation of stories and a wonderful historical and contemporary record. Buy it now at the WoWasis eStore.

WoWasis book review: The Lurline, when exotic luxury sailed the Hawaiian seas

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 08•15

LurlineCoverNot many of us could have afforded to steam from the west coast of the United States to Hawaii aboard the S.S. Lurline, Matson Lines’ luxurious floating palace. Nor on her sister ships the Matsonia, Mariposa, Malolo, or Monterey, either. By 1970, it was all a moot point anyway, as comparatively inexpensive air travel killed Matson’s Hawaiian passenger business. And in similar fashion to the outcome of Pan American’s amphibious Boeing B314 Clipper airplanes, those richly appointed Matson steamers have all been destroyed. No one even bothered to turn one into a stationary seaside hotel.

All of that adds a degree of wistfulness and historical cachet to authors Lynn Blocker and Nick Krantz, and Mary Thiele Fobian’s To Honolulu in Five Days: Cruising Aboard Matson’s S.S. Lurline (2001, ISBN 1-58008-232-7). The book captures the fantasy that represented the dream of exoticism that lay in Hawaii, land of leis, hula girls in grass skirts, surfing, beach-combing, luaus, and steel guitars playing under the balmy, moonlit skies. From 1932 to 1970, the Lurline embodied that fantasy. This book tells the ship’s story embellished with numerous photographs and ephemera, such as menu covers, advertisements, and postcards. It also covers Matson’s Honolulu hotels, the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana. The Lurline was first class passage only, and included in the book are a host of photographs of some of her well-known passengers. Exotic musician Martin Denny is there, too.

MoonAdNGEO_12481cWe what here at WoWasis would have liked to have seen is a tad more information on the sister ships. The authors mention that at one point, the Matsonia was renamed the Lurline, but don’t mention that there was a publicity gaffe involved when the “third Lurline” was put out of commission. The Matsonia was renamed to dull the outcry from people who preferred that the name Lurline remain on the seas. And what of the Monterey and Mariposa? As late as 1978, eight years after the Lurline last sailed, those ships were steaming under the Pacific Far East Line banner.

The book is a valuable one for people desiring to know about Pacific passenger shipping and the marketing of Hawaii as a destination. The Lurline was famous for her murals and menu covers designed by Eugene Savage, which are reproduced in the book. John Kelly and Frank McIntosh provided wonderful artwork for Matson as well, but are not mentioned, nor are their works reproduced and included. This is particularly egregious in terms of McIntosh, whose Art Deco-inspired artwork graced Matson’s menus until the beginning of the Pacific war.

AsiaPromoBannerThe book is worth reading and keeping, however, especially for those who have a whimsical fancy for long-lost romantic, exotic, and luxurious sea travel, and seeking a historical perspective on Hawaii as a travel destination.

WoWasis book review: Early exotic air travel to Hawaii: ‘The History of Pan American’s Flying Boats’

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 26•15

PanAmClipperWe here at WoWasis have all see those pictures of those magnificent flying boats leaving to Hawaii, the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge in the background. And we wondered: what was it like to fly in them? What services were offered? How much did a flight cost? Can we still see them in aviation museums? Roy Allen’s remarkable book The PanAm Clipper: The History of Pan American’s Flying Boats 1931 to 1946 (2000, ISBN 0-7607-2187-4) answers all those questions and more. It’s a fascinating read.

The story is centered around Pan American Airways founder Juan Trippe and his desire to offer air travel options from the United States to Hawaii and the Pacific, Latin America, and Europe. He was the innovator, utilizing such craft as the Sikorsky S-42, Martin M-130, and the iconic Boeing 314, among others. The book has wonderful photos of all these, as well as other aircraft in his fleet. Allen gets behind the scenes to describe the pluses and minuses of each aircraft and the reasons for the decisions Trippe made to evolve to more powerful airplanes. He also describes Trippe’s challenges in dealing with governments, plane manufacturers, and even his own board of directors.

A PanAm Boeing 314 clipper over San Francisco Bay

A PanAm Boeing 314 clipper over San Francisco Bay

The first PanAm Clipper to reach Hawaii, an S-42, arrived in 1935, essentially a test flight. The trip took 18 hours. But Trippe needed a larger craft, which came with the Martin M-130, carrying 8-10 passengers in three compartments, with a dining and cocktail lounge, formal evening meals, and Pullman berths. Trippe’s idea was to create an ocean liner in the sky, but the Martin’s overhead engines created enough compartment noise that he realized that changes were in order. The solution came with the legendary Boeing 314, which arrived in the PanAm fleet in 1938.

The 314 was the largest passenger airplane in the world at the time, carrying 74 passengers and a crew of 10. Among its innovations were proper toilets for men and women (waste was discharged over the ocean), 65 windows, a full-service galley, and a bar. The upholstery was fireproofed and there were ten life rafts. It made its inaugural passenger flight in 1939.

By now, Trippe had added fueling stops in Guam and Wake Island in order to add the Philippines to his destination list. The 314 was also flying European and Latin American routes as well. The advent of World War II closed PanAm’s passenger routes in Europe, and with the war in the Pacific beginning in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, all of Trippe’s 314s were either sold to the British military or requisitioned by U.S. forces.

By the end of the war, the concept of passenger air travel changed. The building of military landing strips throughout the Pacific ushered in land-based aircraft, and the days of the transoceanic flying boat were over.

So where can you see PanAm’s Sikorsky S-42, Martin M-130, and the Boeing 314 today? You can’t. They’ve all been used for parts, scrapped, demolished, or were destroyed while being deployed. The last 314 was scrapped in 1951, a victim of changing technology. These beautiful airships, representative of the romance of early trans-ocenic passenger travel, are all gone, except for what you’ll find in postcards and books like Roy Allen’s.

The book’s a good one, 112 pages in large format, with a great story and lots of wonderful photos. There is one nit-pick. In photos, the Golden Gate Bridge is identified as the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and vise-versa. How could Allen and his editor have missed that?

Nevertheless, the book is worth reading and keeping, especially for those who have a whimsical fancy for long-lost romantic, exotic, and luxurious air travel, words that most certainly can’t be used to describe trans-oceanic air travel today.

WoWasis book review: ‘Art of the Aloha Shirt,’ indispensable for collectors

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 24•15

AlohaShirtBookCoverEvery casual guy, it seems, loves aloha shirts from Hawaii, and that includes your WoWasis review staff. They’re not typically all that expensive, and cotton and rayon fabrics hold up well with many wearings (not so, unfortunately, with Tommy Bahama silks — even with mild washing, we’ve found they tend to rip apart by the second year). Everything you’d probably ever want to know about aloha shirts is covered in clothing scholar Linda B. Arthur’s landmark book The Art of the Aloha Shirt (2008, ISBN 1-59700-586-X), co-written by DeSoto Brown.

An extraordinary aloha shirt print

An extraordinary aloha shirt print

The book discusses the entire history of this garment, with information on fabrics (who knew how tricky rayon was, in the early days), printing methods, and distribution and sales minutiae. The illustrations are exceptional, encompassing period photos and advertisements interspersed with color photos of the shirts themselves. Fashion historians will love this book, as it breaks the aloha shirt history down by decade. Much of the graphic material comes from the University of Hawaii’s Historic Costume Collection, where Arthur is a curator. Brown, a wonderful collaborator, has himself authored several books on Hawaiian historical subjects. The scholarship shows.

The large format, 100 page book is endlessly fascinating, especially in describing the crafts of hand-blocking, silk-screening, and roller-blocking. The illustrations are all-encompassing, including examples of Eugene Savage’s menu cover creations for the Matson ship Lurline, which were converted into shirt prints. The prose often leans toward the poetic:

This golden age lasted until about the middle to late 1950s-not really a very long time. In retrospect, when the output of this period is reviewed, the huge number of prints created was astonishing-and how eye-popping some of them were. Glowing, riotous, vibrant; hula dancers, throw-net fishermen, exploding volcanoes, palm trees. Recognizable actual places: Diamond Head, Aloha Tower, Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Park, Nu’uanu Pali. Actual people: Waikiki beachboys, Hilo Hattie, Hawaiian royalty. All aspects of Hawaiian culture and artifacts: kahili, poi pounders, fishhooks, musical instruments, feather capes. And flowers! Every possible flower: bombax, bird of paradise, angel’s trumpet, night-blooming cereus, lehua, torch ginger, vanda orchids. Occasionally, everything all mixed up: pineapples and grass houses and canoes, coral and fish intermingled with flowers, footprints and crabs.

AsiaPromoBannerArthur and Brown make it a point of saying that there is much misinformation out there in terms of origin of the shirt, and this book aims to correct it. They certainly have the bona fides to make a compelling argument. The book is highly recommended for clothing historians, people interested in Hawaiian culture, and anyone who has at least one Hawaiian aloha shirt in his or her collection. Buy it now at the WoWasis eStore.

WoWasis book review: Bataan Death March: Mario Machi’s ‘Under the Rising Sun’

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 19•15

MachiRisingSunOne of the most infamous incidents in World War II was the Bataan Death March, in which the Japanese military force-marched 60,000-80,000 Allied and Filipino prisoners along a 60 mile route. Along the way, thousands of prisoners died, bayoneted or shot by Japanese soldiers, or victims of wounds, disease, or malnourishment. And Mario Machi, an American prisoner of war, was there. His Under the Rising Sun: Memories of a Japanese Prisoner of War (1994, ISBN 0-9642521-0-4) tells the grim and fascinating story.

The book is compelling, and at 176 pages, a quick read. Machi, a San Franciscan, shipped out to the Philippines and began keeping a diary. After being captured in Manila, he was able to surreptitiously slip his diary to a local citizen, who mailed it back to him after the war. Many of the stories in this book come from the diary, but Machi’s memories from the march and imprisonment in Camp O’Donnell and Cabanatuan were not documented: a found diary meant instant death.

We here at WoWasis found the book to be sobering and inspirational at the same time. Obviously, there’s lots of death here, but also compelling stories of how the survivors managed to stay alive against seemingly insurmountable odds. Bad food, no food, and dysentery are ongoing themes, as are the camp rules that, once violated, often resulted in the execution of the prisoner who breeched them.

Machi is a born storyteller, and was helped along in this book by veteran travel adventure writer Harold Stephens. The Bataan Death March is a story told in many books detailing the Pacific War, but perhaps not as forcefully as this, told by a man who was there, on that road of death. Buy this book now at the WoWasis eStore.

WoWasis book review: ‘Aloha Attire,’ a handsome history of Hawaii’s fashion trade

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 18•15

AlohaAttireBookCoverHawaii’s apparel industry encompasses more than aloha shirts, and the whole story, including women’s fashion, is told informatively by Linda B. Arthur, in her highly informative Aloha Attire: Hawaiian Dress in the Twentieth Century (2000, ISBN 0-7643-1015-1). We here at WoWasis loved the book.

The author focuses on four traditional garment types worn in Hawaii, the holoku, muumuu, and holomuu, worn by women, and the aloha shirt worn by men. There’s a lot of history in the book, richly illustrated by dozens of color photographs of historical garments dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Arthur is a clothing scholar and includes important historical information as to the cultural importance of these garments, along with insightful information on how they were manufactured, distributed, and sold. In addition to the dazzling garments, a final chapter includes photos of clothing labels, a boon for historians and collectors. For those wishing to begin or add to a collection of Hawaiian clothing, she offers a then-current (2000) market price, adding additional value for scholarship purposes as well.

Kahehameha swimsuit, 1960s

Kahehameha swimsuit, 1960s

What could the book have done better? Only a couple of things. We would have liked to have seen a bit more qualitative commentary on some of the more marginal designs. Some of the garments, particularly those made in the latter century, were hideous, and are included without any critical commentary. Perhaps this is understandable in light of the fact that the author is a friend of the industry, and ruffling feathers in such a fashion certainly wouldn’t make her any new friends in that very small but fascinating world.

Overall, the book is an important one, as valuable as ever despite the fact that it’s 15 years old. It’s published by Schiffer, a company known for publishing handsome historical books with an eye to scholarship. This book has annotated footnotes and leads the interested reader to further resources.

AsiaPromoBannerIt’s highly recommended for clothing historians, people interested in Hawaiian culture, and anyone who has at least one Hawaiian garment in his or her collection. Buy it now at the WoWasis eStore.

WoWasis toilet product review: The Swash bidet toilet seat that keeps ‘em coming back for more

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 08•15

BrondellSwash300Here at WoWasis, we’re pretty well known for our bathroom plumbing product reviews, from Thai toilet hoses to heated, pulsating toilet seats from Asia. Geez, we’ve even shown you how to wash your butt on a 747 jet airplane! But we gotta tell ya: after installing the Brondell Swash 300 toilet seat at the WoWasis world headquarters, we just can’t keep visitors off the thing. They use the warm water jets even when they don’t have to use the toilet!

What makes the Brondell Swash 300 bidet seat elemental for every home is its affordability: it’s selling for under $300 USD, more than 50% less than similar seats by other manufacturers. It’s sturdy, easy to install, and a snap to use. It replaces your standard toilet seat in just a few minutes. All plumbing gadgetry is included. When you’re done, you simply plug it in to a grounded, three-prong electrical outlet. And you’re off to the races!

Here’s what you’ll love:

1) There two nozzles, one for “front,” the other for “rear.”
2) The water temperature and pressure are adjustable to three settings.
3) Nozzles are retractable and self-cleaning after each use.
4) Adjust the seat temperature if you’re in the cold season.
5) The lid doesn’t slam down, it floats down.
6) Warm water nozzles are triggered by someone sitting on the seat: no unwanted geysers here.

The product is made in Korea, with exceptional Korean craftsmanship. Installation instructions are simple to read. You’ll be able to do it yourself in an hour or less.

You can spend a whole lot more on heated bidet toilet seats, up to $1000 USD. But why should you? For the extra money, you’d get stainless steel nozzles and an air intake, which is advertised to remove smells. We don’t think either is worth the money. You could also spend less, perhaps $200 USD, but you wouldn’t get warm water. And you’ll love the warm water.

The remote includes instant controls for front or rear wash, water temperature and pressure, and seat temperature

The remote includes instant controls for front or rear wash, water temperature and pressure, and seat temperature

The handy controls on the Swash 300 are mounted on a wireless remote device that you can attach to a wall (via magnet, double-sided tape, or screws), or you can use it hand-held. The bidet seat comes in two sizes, elongated (approximately 20 inches from lid screws to front of bowl) and round (approximately 18 inches).

This is truly a revolutionary product for the Americas, and has a real chance to move Americans away from the barbarity of toilet paper (you still use paper, but only to dry yourself). Its price point is right and it’s durable and easy to use. Once you use it, you’ll never want to go back to the old way of using the bathroom. The Swash 300 can be found in various hardware stores, but you can buy it now, without making a trip, at the WoWasis eStore.

A media giant flees Bangkok: farewell to photographer Nick Nostitz

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 06•15

Nick_NostitzThailand, and Bangkok in particular, isn’t always an easy place for the working press. The latest to depart the Land of Smiles is noted documentary still photographer Nick Nostitz, who was recently roughed up by thugs associated with the PDRC (People’s Democratic Reform Committee). He was rescued from that fracas by Thai police, but has now chosen to pack up and leave.

Nikolaus Freiherr von Nostitz arrived in Thailand in 1993 and is perhaps best known for his photo documentary book Patpong – Bangkok’s Twilight Zone: A Photographic Diary (2000). He is being given a public goodbye at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on Friday, July 9, 2015, at 7pm, with a farewell retrospective of his work. As soon as legal complications are addressed, he will be leaving to relocate to Germany.

As Nostitz noted in his blog on December 19, 2014, “After the assault against me by the PDRC on November 25, 2013, a broad hate campaign was launched against me, and which led to a fortunately failed abduction attempt on May 7, 2014. I am still receiving threats, and the group responsible for this has so far refused any communication or attempt to clear the situation. This has compounded my financial problems, and is severely affecting my ability to work. I have not been able to work at all during the 7 months of PDRC protests, and even now I cannot, for example, go anywhere in southern Thailand, as this is the main support base for the PDRC.”

The cover of 'Patpong-Bangkok's Twilight Zone'

The cover of ‘Patpong-Bangkok’s Twilight Zone’

His story sent us, here at WoWasis, back to looking at Nostitz’s book. It’s a chilling but very real document of the nightlife scene in Bangkok at it was from 1993 to 2000, focusing primarily on street people, sex workers, customers, and expats. The photos are mostly black and white, and gritty. The text, typed, handwritten, and taped to the page, is right out of William Burroughs. There are entire chapters dedicated to clubs such as the Thermae and the equally legendary hardcore ladyboy bar  Casanova, which still exists in Nana Plaza.The book is a valuable and still important time capsule of a world gone by, while remaining an endlessly recurring story.

The ongoing tale of expats in Thailand has many flavors, and Nostitz was never afraid of mixing it up. Finally, he got caught in the cement mixer. It’s sobering to review his personal essay in the book, written in 2000, and reflect on where he is, philosophically, today:

Life was always too narrow for me in Germany. Since I can remember I wanted to be somebody else, live somewhere else. I got kicked out of schools, threw stones in demonstrations, did drugs. Nothing made me happy. Always searching for something.

I thought I found the answer when I went to India for the first time. It opened a new world for me, full of questions. A freedom I had always been looking for, no rules or regulations but my own, no expectations, just to be.

In Germany I knew my future would have been university, job, family. Suicide.

So I barely finished school, worked nightshifts for two months, then left. With a few intervals I travelled for the next five years. Walking Hindu pilgrimages in the Himalayas, surfing in Indonesia’s islands, getting lost on India’s plains, sipping tea in China’s mountains, chewing kat in Djibouti’s slums, attending timeless ceremonies in Tibet. What a life, just caring for the present moment.

But I became restless and lonely. Until I found Bangkok. All my friends carried some sort of load on their backs. In Bangkok there was no need to hide it, it was accepted, even expected. We fucked up, life fucked us, so we fucked life, and had loads of fun with it.

Because bad things had happened to us we thought we could behave the way we did. But bad things happen to everyone, so that was no reason. In truth it was just coincidence: right time, right place, right state of mind.

We were so naive, and had no idea that serious things were waiting to happen. We came from all backgrounds, some of us had no education, most had left careers behind. We went out together, shared women. And Bangkok’s night became our prison. We were addicted to the lifestyle, slaves to it; intoxicated by a moral set-up incomprehensible and alien to anyone outside the scene. And in turn we couldn’t understand other people anymore, their bigotry, their double standards, trapped as we were in our bubble of illusions.

Many of us have left, some have been or still are in jail, a consequence of the life we chose. Most of us have created some sort of life for ourselves here in Thailand.

Bangkok has changed our lives so profoundly it will never leave us. Whatever we do, our experience of Bangkok will remain. We just have to come to terms with it. Somehow.

ThailandPromoBannerThose who will be in Bangkok on January 9 should plan to be at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, close to the BTS Chit Lom station, at 7pm. Nick Nostitz’s exhibited photos will be compelling. We suspect he’ll be there in person. Whether or not you can make it, we recommend his book. It’s an important document. And whatever his future holds, he shouldn’t be forgotten. And won’t.

WoWasis book review: Dean Barrett’s ‘Pop Darrell’s Last Case’

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 04•15

BarrettPopDarrellVeteran Bangkok-based author Dean Barrett is always full of surprises. In addition to his Thailand beat, he’s been a New York-based dramatist, lived in Hong Kong for 17 years, and he’s served as a Chinese language specialist for a branch of the Department of Defense. Somehow, just about all of that has made in into his latest thriller, Pop Darrells’ Last Case (2014, ISBN 978-0-9788888-4-8).

Set in New York, the story involves a retired cop whose suicide is interrupted by a crying woman at the door. Soon, he’s going after some very nasty Chinese and New York gangsters. Or more truthfully, they’re going after him.

While the overall theme is entrenched with the ancient tale of young vs. old, it soon turns into classic Sword & Sorcery, influenced by a touch of Dr. Jekyll and a whole lotta Chinese mythology. It also touches on human trafficking, but, as any Barrett devotee can guess, that particular crime isn’t always written in black and white.

As is the case with Barrett’s previous book, A Love Story: The China Memoirs of Thomas Rowley, the author seems more and more bent on exploring Chinese mythology, rather than the Thai scene explored in many of his earlier books. Expect to come away with knowledge of a couple of important characters from Chinese lore that you might not have known about before.

ChinaPromoBannerThe book kept us here at WoWasis riveted, waiting for Barrett’s usual turns of events. And love or hate Pop Darrell, you won’t be seeing him again, as the title suggests, any time soon.

Buy this book now at the WoWasis eStore.