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Literature / Sonchai Jitpleecheep

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The Sonchai Jitpleecheep series is a series of crime novels by John Burdett that follow the adventures of Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a devout Buddhist who serves in the Royal Thai Police.

This series contains examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Sonchai refuses to take bribes, which causes his fellow cops to look upon him with suspicion.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Fatima, the culprit in Bangkok 8, underwent thorough gender reassignment surgery and now lives as a woman, but she says that she only did so in order to hold on to her deeply-closeted lover and she is largely indifferent to gender theory.
  • Armored Closet Gay: William Bradley spent most of his life in the closet, only realizing that he might be gay after meeting Fatima.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: It's an open secret that Sonchai's boss, Capt. Vikorn, is on the take. He's also one of the people responsible for the death of Sonchai's partner.
  • Black Humor: Put it this way: the first book alone includes a lecture on the proper way to inject drugs into a snake's anus, a group discussion with a bunch of overeducated Russian prostitutes, a high-class brothel catering to old men, and Sonchai having a pleasant chat with a middle-aged stripper while she practices for a ping pong show.
  • Boxed Crook: When Pichai and Sonchai were kids, they killed a yaa baa dealer and were caught. A local monk intervened to keep them out of jail, but in exchange, they were expected to become police when they grew up and live their lives as arhat ("perfected people" in Buddhism).
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The series takes considerable delight in playing up the differences between Thai society and American society; for instance, the Thai cops feel very little shame about taking bribes, much to Kimberly's horror.
  • Easy Sex Change: Fatima easily passes as a woman after her gender-reassignment surgery, but it's lampshaded that her lover spent a great deal of money to make her that way.
  • Fair Cop: Kimberly Jones, Sonchai's FBI-appointed partner in Bangkok 8, is both attractive and competent, though she has little experience dealing with the Royal Thai Police.
  • Holiday in Cambodia: The series explores the seedier aspects of life in Bangkok, including illicit drugs and prostitution.
  • Strange Cop in a Strange Land: In Bangkok 8, Kimberly Jones arrives in Bangkok as part of a larger investigation into Sylvester Warren, and attaches herself to Sonchai, much to his horror.