Cambodian Book of the Dead by Tom Vater
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Maier, a German reporter-turned-detective goes to Cambodia to find the heir to a coffee fortune. Maier's quest gets him entangled with a beautiful woman who's lovers inevitably die horribly, a Khmer Rouge general, and a Nazi war criminal called the White Spider. Will Maier return from the killing fields or die trying?
First, the official business. I got this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for reviewing it.
This book and I did not really get along. It's supposed to be a thriller but aside from a man being torn apart by a tiger shark, there aren't many thrilling bits in the first 50% of the book. The story started taking off after that but by then, I had already soured on it.
The book felt to me like Tom Vater has a great fascination with Cambodian history and culture. While that's fine, some of it felt really out of place in a thriller and slowed the story down considerably. By the time things picked up, I was ready for bad things to happen to Maier.
Speaking of bad things, the second half of the book salvaged things a bit as Maier had people gunning for him and wound up drugged a couple times. Another thing this book had going for it was the characters. While I didn't think Maier was anything special, I loved Clarissa, and thought Les, Pete, and Kaley were multifaceted characters and very nicely done. I also loved the little girl assassins. The White Spider's background was also really good.
Two stars. It was okay but the pace in the first half killed it for me.
View all my reviews