Friday, 25 January 2019

The Monsoon Ghost Image by Tom Vater

The Monsoon Ghost Image by Tom Vater
Published by Crime Wave Press on the 31st October 2018.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Dirty Pictures, Secret Wars And Human Beasts – Detective Maier Is Back To Investigate The Politics Of Murder

The third Detective Maier mystery is a taut and crazy spy thriller for our disturbing times.

When award-winning German conflict photographer Martin Ritter disappears in a boating accident in Thailand, the nation mourns the loss of a cultural icon. But a few weeks later, Detective Maier’s agency in Hamburg gets a call from Ritter’s wife. Her husband has been seen alive on the streets of Bangkok. Maier decides to travel to Thailand to find Ritter. But all he finds is trouble and a photograph. 

As soon as Maier puts his hands on the Monsoon Ghost Image, the detective turns from hunter to hunted – the CIA, international business interests, a doctor with a penchant for mutilation and a woman who calls herself the Wicked Witch of the East all want to get their fingers on Martin Ritter’s most important piece of work – visual proof of a post 9/11 CIA rendition and the torture of a suspected Muslim terrorist on Thai soil. From the concrete canyons of the Thai capital to the savage jungles and hedonist party islands of southern Thailand, Maier and his sidekick Mikhail race against formidable foes to discover some of our darkest truths and to save their lives into the bargain.

I still haven't gotten around to reading the first volume of Tom Vater's Detective Maier Mystery series, The Cambodian Book Of The Dead, although I did enjoy the second mystery, The Man With The Golden Mind so I was happy to be offered the opportunity to reads its sequel, The Monsoon Ghost Image. (Regular visitors will know I struggle to read any series in the right order!) In this third book, a jaded and suffering Detective Maier is again drawn to Asia, this time to Thailand, along with his Russian colleague, Mikhail, to investigate nefarious goings on.

Vater's location descriptions are, again, wonderfully evocative and detailed. I could easily envisage Bangkok slums or isolated jungle islands, stunning coral coves and drug-addled backpacker parties. However I wasn't so gripped by the mystery this time around. The narrative seemed quite disjointed with members of the cast frequently popping up unexpectedly and then everything moving to a new scene before I could work out exactly what was happening.

If you like fast-paced thrillers with lots of dark violence you probably will enjoy Maier's adventures. I found myself wanting a lot more information about the hows and whys though - especially the whys. We don't get to know any of the characters particularly well so I wasn't always convinced of the authenticity of their actions. I need to at least believe in a character, then I find it easier to suspend belief in the plot when necessary and still enjoy the ride. Sadly that was often too difficult here.

Meet the author

Tom Vater has published four crime novels and is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based crime fiction imprint. He writes for many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, CNN and The Nikkei Asian Review. He is a best-selling non-fiction writer and co-author of the highly acclaimed Sacred Skin.

Author links: 
Linked In ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Clippings

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Tom Vater / Thrillers / Books from Germany


  1. I too struggle to read any books in the right order!

  2. I'm not usually into this genre but it sounds pretty good. I'm gonna have to give it a go!

  3. wow this sounds right up my street its so hard to find a gripping read

  4. I am glad that you enjoyed this third book and I hope you can go back and read the first one soon. The setting sounds beautifully described and included well into the thriller as well. Great review x

    1. Vater lives in the Far East now and his knowledge of the countries really shines through the stories