My turn was up and the topic was very broad. When I returned the last book I lingered in the library and perused the shelves looking for a good fit.
A book with a red spine: Cambodia Noir by Nick Seeley
Cambodia’ is a place where people go to get lost and never be found. Will has been living there for nine years getting lost in drugs and alcohol trying to kill his past and working as a photographer for a local newspaper.
His life has been a well oiled machine of working just enough to keep his job during the day and spending his nights getting lost in his addictions. That is until June Saito arrives in Cambodia as an intern for the paper. Will is out of town on a trip to acquire more drugs when June arrives and is put up in his apartment. Everyone views her as an up and coming journalist. Someone not afraid to get into the nitty gritty details of a story. June leaves on assignment one day and never returns. Most people believe she jumped ship and got lost or ended up as yet another American casualty, but when her sister flies in from the US with money to spend to find her, Will finds himself hired. He quickly becomes entangled in a spider web of deceit, drugs, murder and his own past.
The book is set in modern times and the author paints a picture of Cambodia that I fear is true while hoping it is not. Drugs, alcohol and sex addiction/trafficking are abundant throughout giving the book a gritty feel.
The prose themselves are written in a fast and sharp manner with short, quickly firing sentences. To me, it makes the book feel choppy and disconnected, but it also moves the story along quickly and keeps the reader’s attention.
Every character in the book is unlikable. Addiction extortion, bribery, murder. As the book progresses the main characters become caught in a downward spiral but not in an endearing and hopeless way. Instead I found myself hoping they would meet an end commiserate with the misery they have caused others.
The author tries hard to lead the reader down a certain path, but the twists and turns he throws in make no sense with the overall theme and the ending, wile a surprise, is so disconnected from the rest of the book as the leave me questioning why I even bothered. I’ll admit to not having seen it coming, but then looking back it made no sense at all.
Likewise, there are many scenes within the novel, that had it been a movie would have fallen into the gratuitous sex/violence category and made no impact on the theme or overall story line. Once scene in particular has Will paid to take photographs of a politician’s son having sex with a man in a hotel room. While Will is watching, both men are brutally murdered with a machete. It serves no real purpose in the story and could have easily been omitted.
I would not recommend this book. The end was not worth the effort of reading. 1/5