Title: Private Dancer
Author: Stephen Leather
Genre: Fiction (Mystery)
Set in: Thailand
Source: Free e-book download
Rating: 4 out of 5
If you have ever visited Pattaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai or any other tourist places in Thailand, the most common sight you’d see is an old white man with a very young Thai girl. You’d wonder what’s up with that before you realize that they are actually bar girls or prostitutes and the white men are mostly sex tourists. When I searched for books based in Thailand on the internet, Private Dancer came up many times. I was thrilled when I found out that this book was available as free download on the authors site. A printed version of the book is now available but the author has not taken down the link for this one.
Anyway, I started this book when we went on a vacation to Pattaya, Thailand for the new year. What a great insight it was into the world of this so-called couples I saw around. The entire tourist area in Pattaya is filled with bars and sleaze that is usually associated with it. There are similar areas in Bangkok that are famous, viz. Nana Plaza, Patpong and a couple of others. Private Dancer is set in and around these areas.
Pete moves to Thailand from London for work. He gets involved with a bar girl and prostitute Joy and is naive enough to think it’s love. He does everything for her and she in turn is using him, as bar girls do, to get money out of him. She also has a Thai boyfriend who Pete doesn’t know about. This book provides a lot of insight into these white men/bar girl relationships. In a way, it’s the kind of book a man should read before coming to Thailand and getting involved with these bar girls.
The writer has a very interesting way of telling a story. We get to know about story and the various characters from the characters themselves. So there are a lot of viewpoints in this-Joy, her sister, Pete’s friends but most of all Pete. It’s refreshing and although there isn’t much difference in the tone of the voices, there is a difference in their situations. Since this book is written mostly from the prospective of guys, most of whom are in Thailand for the sleaze, you get a different perspective of bar girls than you would from other people, or woman for that matter.
Obviously, the bars and the night life is not what Thailand is all about but it can’t be denied that it is a very small yet prominent part of it. Read it for getting to know a world you’ll probably never get to know up-close or simply for entertainment.
Note: This is my first book for the East and SouthEast Asia Challenge.
I have just spent the last few minutes over on Amazon, convincing myself that this is the same Stephen Leather that I know from his ‘thriller’ books.
Okay, I’m convinced, although it certainly sounds like it deviates somewhat from his usual style of writing, although there is another new title in his profile now called ‘Bankok Bob And The Missing Mormon’.
Both of these titles seem out of sync with his previous work, although it may be that the radical change in cover style also influences the reader.
Guess I shall just have to try reading your recommendation, to find out!
Oh yes, he does mention on his blog that this book is very different from what hes usually written because his publisher was reluctant to publish it. I have to admit I’ve never read any of his other books.
He says about the cover “[It] was taken in Anglewitch Bar in Nana Plaza and features one of the bar’s top showgirls. I sat with my friend Andrew Yates for hours outside Nana Plaza in search of the right girl, but it seemed as if the only ones with long straight hair were the ladyboys! My pal Paul Owen took the photograph. I borrowed the cut-throat razor from my barber and it took us almost an hour to get the shot right. I’m really pleased with the result – think it’s one of my best covers.” I find such tid-bits interesting 🙂
My dad distantly knows someone who got involved in “sex tourism” in Thailand. So creepy!
goes on my TBR.I remember feeling a little queasy when i walked down Waking street at Pattaya- really young girls and boys living in sleaze,drugs,booze and prostitution.Really sad!.
Oh wow, it looks interesting and very different from what I read most of the time. I took a look on his website, and I was able to get a pdf copy for free. I don’t know that I’ll be able to read it all on computer, but I’ll at least read the first pages and, if I enjoy it, I’ll get my copy. I definitely need to branch out and read more adult fiction, but most of all fiction that happens out of the American continent! Thanks for the review 🙂