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'Bangkok is the star of this accomplished novel. Its denizens are aliens to themselves, glittering on the horizon of their own lives, moving - restless and rootless and afraid - though a cityscape that has more stories than they know' HILARY MANTEL Sarah Talbot Jennings, a young American living in New York, has fled to Bangkok to disappear. Arriving with a suitcase containing $200,000, she rents an apartment at the Kingdom, a glittering high-end complex slowly sinking into its own twilight - and run by conveniently discreet staff. In Bangkok's simmering heat Sarah meets the beguiling Mali, a half-Thai tenant who's strangely determined to bring the quiet American out of her shell. An invitation to Mali's poker nights soon follows, where - fuelled by shots of yadong, gossip of shady dealings in the city and the hit of marijuana - Sarah is drawn into the orbit of the Kingdom's glamorous ex-pat women. But when political chaos and a frenzied uprising wrack the streets below, and Sarah witnesses something unspeakable through one of the Kingdom's windows, her safe haven begins to feel like a trap. From a master of atmosphere and suspense, The Glass Kingdom is a brilliantly unsettling story of cruelty and psychological unrest, and an enthralling glimpse into the shadowy crossroads of karma and human greed. 'Showing Osborne at the height of his powers, The Glass Kingdom upends the Western reader's most basic assumptions about the human world . . . stylish and disquieting' JOHN GRAY, NEW STATESMAN
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What could be a good place to hide for some time? Bangkok it is Sarah resolves after she has stolen $200.000 from her former employer in New York. In the anonymous building “The Kingdom” she hopes to spend some weeks alone to have the situation cool down. Soon, she gets to know some other tenants, Mali, a half-Thai girl whom Sarah can never fully grasp. And there is the Chilean Ximena, a chef who dreams of her own restaurant whereas Natalie lives the life of a rich wife and sees Bangkok only as a short stop before moving to a better place. Even though most of the people keep to themselves, secrets move fast within the walls of the glass skyscraper and it does not take too long for Sarah to rouse her neighbours’ suspicions and interest. I have been a huge fan of Lawrence Osborne’s novels for some years. Not only do his settings vary enormously – Morocco, Greece, Mexico, now Thailand – but he also creates highly interesting characters whom he confronts with challenging situations they, on the one hand, provoked themselves but which, on the other, unexpectedly get highly complicated without an actual good way out. Thus, he brings out the worst of human nature. At first, Sarah seems a bit lost and you feel sympathy for her, but just until you learn which reckless behaviour brought her to the strange house. Yet, only for a short time do those negative feelings towards the protagonist linger since you soon realise that she is too naive and trusting for the world she entered. All other characters behave highly suspiciously and it is obvious that the young American will easily fall prey to them even though they are all quite diverse and aim at different things, whom their victim will be is more than obvious. Just as the outer world is shaken by a political turmoil, also the inner world of The Kingdom seems to crumble. Decision have to be made and options have to be weighed quickly. Cleverly, Osborne builds increasing suspense and shows those sides of human character you never wanted to see. Threats appear from all corners, even the most unexpected, all heading to a highly tragic end.
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