As much as I like Declan Power in The Chiang Mai Chronicle by T Hunt Locke, Colin McDonald AKA Big Mac is my new favorite protagonist by this up and coming historical crime fiction thriller writer. Locke has proven himself to be an astute observer of humans and human behavior, particularly the kind of behavior that takes place in the Bangkok night.
The author gets all the ingredients right for me in Repent: characters, settings, lust, laughs and just the right amount of love potion thrown in at the end. There are similarities between Declan and Big Mac; they both remind me of Mike Hammer with their gruff personalities and good fortune to be around a bevy of beauties. The writing style remains in the vein of Mickey Spillane. However, Locke has definitely kicked it up a notch with Colin, a legally troubled former East Coast prosecuting attorney who knows how the games are played and enjoys playing them all. The 6’4″ Big Mac is now a Bangkok troubleshooter who has no problem following a devil into the darkest corners of the City of Angels.
Locke impresses me because he improves as a writer the old fashioned way – hard work. He keeps at his craft, he keeps producing and he keeps getting better while not being afraid to mix up his formula. There are pages where he pushes the envelop with belief suspension but you are having so much fun at the time you hardly notice. I liked the Catholic Church angle thrown into the mystery along with the local history involved and the cast of colorful characters including an expat known as John the Baptist, a former nightlife player turned bible thumper.
Locke doesn’t phone it in – he does his research but never at the expense of entertainment or coming across in a “look what I know” way which would detour you out of the story. It all flows together evenly. What you learn about Constantine Phaulkon, a Greek adventurer who ended up being an influential member of 17th Century Siamese society is a case in point. Repent is a solid historical mystery and a fine effort by Locke. I’m looking forward to a return of Colin McDonald in future tales, along with his love interest Ai and the requisite Royal Thai Police sidekick, although I must admit I’m going to miss his old office on Soi Cowboy for the glass and chrome palace he’s been upgraded to.
This is not a life altering read. Repent is a fun romp into the back streets, sheets, and red light districts of Bangkok as Big Mac tries to solve the proverbial maniacal mass murderer with a biblical bent. Give it a go at the beach or at an afternoon beer bar between your 12 ounce curl routine.
Click the Picture of T Hunt Locke and his two children to go his Amazon Author page
Photograph by Jiraporn Jaisan