THE PARADISE EATER by John Ralston Saul


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From the author of The Birds of Prey and The Next Best Thing, the story of an expatriate Canadian--riddled with hardy new strains of venereal disease--who is a reluctant participant in the sordid, drug-dominated politics of modern Thailand. Corruption, personal and national, is the watchword in John Field's adopted city of Bangkok. Journalist-turned-businessman Field is on his umpteenth case of gonorrhea--a disease he picks up regularly from the Thai prostitutes who seem to be the largest demographic segment in a city floating on sewage. Barred from booze and sex by his saintly Anglo-Thai doctor-friend Michael Woodward, Field reluctantly accepts a commission to do a bit of commercial negotiating in neighboring Laos on behalf of Catherine Laker--a rather batty but rich American widow who carries on her extensive and successful business activities from a concrete fortress. Before leaving for Viertiane, Field buys the indenture of Ao, a luckless peasant prostitute with her own seemingly incurable case of clap, and installs her in his household as something of a celibate concubine. He also agrees to check on a couple of fellow Canadians (the wife was his One True Love) while in the neighboring People's Republic The trip is a nightmare. The business end seems to go okay, but the Canadian couple, who have been collecting intelligence on the local drug business, are tortured to death by villains who seem to think that Field should be the next to go. They follow him back to a Bangkok seething in the throes of the latest military coup. Field tries to track down the murderers as the city wallows in flood tides and intrigue. The self-loathing and the multi-hued discharges may prove more than some readers can stomach. Hard-core fans of subtropical corruption, however, will enjoy the new scenery and political angles.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1988
Publisher: McGraw-Hill