Title: Private Dancer
Author: Stephen Leather
Genre: Fiction (Mystery)
Set in: Thailand
Source: Free e-book download
Rating: 4 out of 5

My Thoughts:
If you have ever visited Pattaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai or any other tourist places in Thailand, the most common sight you’d see is an old white man with a very young Thai girl. You’d wonder what’s up with that before you realize that they are actually bar girls or prostitutes and the white men are mostly sex tourists. When I searched for books based in Thailand on the internet, Private Dancer came up many times. I was thrilled when I found out that this book was available as free download on the authors site. A printed version of the book is now available but the author has not taken down the link for this one.

Anyway, I started this book when we went on a vacation to Pattaya, Thailand for the new year. What a great insight it was into the world of this so-called couples I saw around. The entire tourist area in Pattaya is filled with bars and sleaze that is usually associated with it. There are similar areas in Bangkok that are famous, viz. Nana Plaza, Patpong and a couple of others. Private Dancer is set in and around these areas.

Pete moves to Thailand from London for work. He gets involved with a bar girl and prostitute Joy and is naive enough to think it’s love. He does everything for her and she in turn is using him, as bar girls do, to get money out of him. She also has a Thai boyfriend who Pete doesn’t know about. This book provides a lot of insight into these white men/bar girl relationships. In a way, it’s the kind of book a man should read before coming to Thailand and getting involved with these bar girls.

The writer has a very interesting way of telling a story. We get to know about story and the various characters from the characters themselves. So there are a lot of viewpoints in this-Joy, her sister, Pete’s friends but most of all Pete. It’s refreshing and although there isn’t much difference in the tone of the voices, there is a difference in their situations. Since this book is written mostly from the prospective of guys, most of whom are in Thailand for the sleaze, you get a different perspective of bar girls than you would from other people, or woman for that matter.

Obviously, the bars and the night life is not what Thailand is all about but it can’t be denied that it is a very small yet prominent part of it. Read it for getting to know a world you’ll probably never get to know up-close or simply for entertainment.

Note: This is my first book for the East and SouthEast Asia Challenge.