Paternal love grapples with opium dreams in a sharp, short, and terrifying adventure: the latest from this four-time winner of the British Fantasy Award (Indigo, 2000, etc.).
The only things going well in the life of fearfully smart but unlettered London electrician Dan Innes are the wiring, at which he’s very good, and the pub quizzes, at which he and his teammates are nearly unbeatable. Dan’s wife Sheila has left him, his son Phil has become rabidly evangelical, and now comes word that Charlie, his multiply pierced Oxford graduate daughter, from whom he has not heard in two years, has been locked up for drug smuggling in Thailand. It’s a horrible fate, but not surprising. Once the light of his life, Charlie had a spectacularly rebellious adolescence, and her fights with her old dad were killers, but who cares about old quarrels now? She’s in the worst possible trouble, and Dan will do anything to get her out. Anything, in this case, means flying to a country he knows nothing about to do battle with a government that could not care less how much he loved the child Charlie once was. Oddly enough, Dan’s quiz teammate Mick, a gregarious bachelor whose friendship has been lightly regarded, insists on coming along. He bulls his way into the action, in fact, bringing all his savings with him. And Phil, the mopey joylessly Christian son, comes too. The Chiang Mai jail is but the first stop in a hair-raising search that takes the discordant trio miles and miles into the Thai-Burmese borderland—where opium flows like water, where the law is a laugh, and where Charlie lies in a hallucinatory cell, possibly mad, definitely addicted. The Londoners find themselves de facto prisoners of the local druglord, and the possibility of a quick and safe escape seems more remote by the minute. Blood will flow, and inner resources will be tested.
Surprisingly moving bits on wounded love and disrespected friendship flesh out a thoroughly frightening and foreign adventure.