Friday Feature – Simon Palmer
Normally, my Friday Feature is for guest authors. But this Friday is something different. A guest author is still part of the feature, but today I’ll be talking about Simon Palmer, discussing his book, Lost Innocence: The Accused, part 1 (The Land of Smiles), and giving you my review.
Simon Palmer is a screen-writer and new novelist who lives in Bangkok and has spent months researching this novel visiting an Australian inmate called Mitchel Blake inside the Bangkok Hilton. Lost Innocence: The Accused, part 1 (The Land of Smiles) is his first novel. His second novel, Lost Innocence: Breaking Point, part 2 (The Land of Smiles) continues Michael’s story.
Michael, an artist charged with a crime he claims he didn’t commit, and John, a self-confessed heroin smuggler, are brought together in the primitive and over-crowded prison infamously known as the BANGKOK HILTON.
Michael fights for his freedom, while John, resigned to his fate, wants only to regain his dignity. Michael’s grandfather, a once brilliant lawyer, is brought out of retirement and flies to Bangkok to fight a case in a city where justice is bought and sold to the highest bidder and corruption is the oil that greases the wheels in the Land of Smiles. Running out of time and unable to find the only witness, he searches for another way to succeed in what seems a hopeless case. Meanwhile, in order to survive the most appalling conditions in jail, Michael and John must make the best of a dire situation as they wait for their separate fates to be decided. Will justice be served or will they see out the next ten years in that hell-hole of a prison?
This book is a must read for anyone thinking about taking risks in the Land of Smiles. Think twice.
I must say after agreeing to review this book, I was intrigued by the synopsis. Once I read the book, I can say, the synopsis does not capture the horrific conditions portrayed within the book. I am not saying the synopsis isn’t good. It is, but in order to feel Michael’s pain, to know he’s innocent of charges, but must pay to get out of the hell he’s in because a corrupt official wants money, doesn’t begin to show what Michael endures.
Michael is finally persuaded to contact his parents over his situation, and his father, Stan, a lawyer, arrives in Bangkok to bail Michael out. This is the first time we see get an in-depth look at Michael’s father. He comes up short. Are all lawyers self-serving bastards that put their needs before their family? I don’t think so. But still, I wondered what kind of man would arrive in a city where his son is in prison and he doesn’t make the effort to immediately see him. Michael’s father is weak. But, Palmer writes him as a weak character to
explore the seedy side of Bangkok. Here is a sample:
“Let’s go upstairs.”
“Have private room.”
Guilt had lost out to lust, again. Stan finished his drink, pulled up his shorts and followed her up a flight of broken stairs. They arrived at a room that smelt of smoke and sex. It had an old pool table with a torn cloth and a small, empty bar.
She locked the door behind them, leaned him up.
He shuffled back feeling foolish and waited. His heart thumped as she glided over, placed the drinks on the side then fell to her knees. She pulled down his boxers, took his manhood in her hands and tickled the tip with her nails. She took him deeply in her mouth and caressed him with her long, strong tongue. He glanced down; her eyes met his as she started to suck him fast and furiously. He could feel himself coming, again, and reached down to take her firm, left breast in his hand.
She continued, careful not to finish him, her musky perfume tickling his nostrils. He reached down, slipped his hand through her dress and ventured down her legs. He was about to reach her opening, when she stopped him. He paused for a Mississippi count of three, then tried again –this time she allowed him safe passage.
He reached down, grazed her thigh and then continued further on his voyage until finally arriving between her legs. Expecting a shaved, smooth moist opening, he was more than gob-smacked when he felt along, hard bulge, taped up and strapped firmly to her inside leg. He felt it again -to be sure –it was still there -fuck!
A tsunami of aversion, revulsion, repulsion horror, disgust and despair swept over him, amongst other emotions that had all arrived simultaneously. He almost threw up. He lifted her(?) him(?) it from him and pushed her(?)him(?) it away. He stumbled into his clothes and dashed for the door.
“I thought you knew,” the lady-boy cried out as she stood back scratching her head.
He struggled with the lock, opened the door, legged it down the stairs and rushed out of the bar. Then bolting blindly across the road, he side-stepped a taxi-tout to be hithead-on by a Tuk Tuk.
Michael’s grandfather, a retired lawyer, now must travel to Bangkok to free Michael. The man is one heart attack away from death, but his family comes first. Michael’s grandfather isn’t one to just pay the fine, and get out. Yes, he wants his grandson out of prison, but he also needs to know the whole story. And what unfolds reveals the corruption rife within the justice system in Bangkok.
Once Michael’s grandfather arrives in Bangkok, the story takes off. There’s lots of action. We see the story from the grandfathger’s POV as he investigates the madame who Michael paid to allow him to draw prostitutes. Which leads him to sex brothels posing as massage parlors. He confronts the girl’s friends and family, the girl who accused Michael of rape, and we find these girls owe the chief Inspector money. Michael’s grandfather hires a private investigator who promptly gets shot over the situation, but his “girlfriend”, a woman who knows first hand the atrocities these women suffer, and whom has been taught how to defend herself by the private investigator now has the chief inspector in her sights. She means to kill him.
Interspersed within the action we see Michael as he and John wade through the corruption of guards, the system that allows officials to push back their case every 12 days while prisoners live in substandard conditions. Rotting food, bugs, no beds, blankets, no facilities to relieve themselves, and with dirty water and no soap to wash.
As I read, the story it was perfectly clear that Michael is innocent. His friend, John, however, is not. I questioned why Palmer would bring in a character like John. But, the reader needs to know the innocent as well as the guilty suffer the same fate.
I wish I could say the situation Michael faces is just fictional. It’s not. The story is based on what men and women suffer at the hands of Bangkok’s police. And, I’d love to reveal more, but that would spoil it for you. So, let me say. This is a must read.
To read more reviews or to buy this book, click on: amzn.to/ZqNrSj