Today I will be sharing an extract for my spot on the blog tour for the novel The Monsoon Ghost Image by Tom Vater. This one is available now! It is book three in the Detective Maier Mystery Series.
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.
Maier and Mikhail, trapped on a German tycoon’s island in southern Thailand, populated by wild predatory animals, encounter Dr. Suraporn, a CIA asset and one of the novel’s villains in a clearing.
Maier could smell him before they could see him.
There were no animals around, unless one considered Dr. Suraporn to be part of the impossible menagerie out there. Every now and then, the breeze washed the sound of the sea into the deceptively peaceful scene, rendering the Hieronymus Bosch tableau vivant that unfolded in front of them almost bucolic. Otherwise it was perfectly quiet. The jungle had retreated in disgust, its moveable parts as far away as possible from the scene unfurling around the water hole.
Suraporn was down by the water’s edge, his back turned to the three men. He was naked, but for his rubber gloves. Another team of hunters sat disemboweled on the edge of the clearing a few meters away. The doctor had made a fire near the bodies which was now merely smoldering. The carcass of a bird of paradise lay in the bushes a few feet away. A wallet of medical instruments lay open near his victims, bloodied blades strewn across its oilskin fabric. Suraporn’s clothes lay neatly folded, far enough away not to get splattered with the bits of humanity he’d cut off his victims.
Maier looked closer at the two dead men. Both their faces were awash with blood.
Mikhail pushed him gently.
“Don’t look at that for too long. It’s not right.”
It took Maier another few seconds to realize that neither man had a face. Suraporn had pulled the skin off their skulls, all the way down to their jaws. Krieger’s man had had his nose removed. The doctor had skillfully replaced it with the head of a bird. The client was worse. His eye sockets had become the home of tiny snakes, which writhed behind a black web of thread Suraporn had sewn onto the man’s face.
Maier was particularly disturbed by the fact that the web was shaped into a beautiful geometric pattern, a mandala.
When the detective looked up, the doctor, who had turned, stared straight at him.
“You’re the first admirers of my work today. And I must say, your longevity is remarkable.”
Suraporn had a small knife in his gloved right hand. He was twisting the blade around so it would catch the sun. He seemed relaxed, even as he stood bleeding from a wound in his shoulder that he had roughly stitched himself. The man was bionic, almost super human. Maier never saw him blink.
They were about thirty feet from the water’s edge
“Are they all dead?”
Suraporn surveyed the clearing.
“All except for you. Is this a trap? Are you bringing the cavalry?”
Mikhail nodded carefully and looked directly at the doctor. Maier sensed that Mikhail was trying to stare him down, cut off his mind control stuff, if that’s what it was. The detective noticed, quite suddenly, that none of them were pointing their guns at the doctor. As the thought was about to send him into a panic, Suraporn began to speak again.
“The jungle doesn’t worry me. I don’t register with animals much. It is humans who fear me.”
“You just sowed a bird’s head onto a human face.”
The doctor grinned, “Yes, and in record time too. Still, despite my skills, the man expired before my work was completed. The bird didn’t mind. Nature is forgiving to creatures like me.”
He laughed softly.
“What are you?”
“I am the secret weapon in your War on Terror. I go where ordinary men don’t go. To his credit, Ritter tried to cross the threshold too, but he’s not strong enough. You farang are too close to your egos. Your sense of destiny…it’s overdeveloped. We’re all part of something bigger. Even me.”
It was obvious that the doctor relished the situation, relished the tussle with Mikhail, and relished their powerlessness. Maier’s head was screaming, but he looked on, unable to move, in sick fascination.
The doctor was touching his penis with his left hand while keeping an eye on his captives. Maier had no doubt that that’s what they were – prisoners.
“I could stand here playing with myself until Krieger turns up and has you killed. Probably in a theatrical kind of way. He might bring his toy guillotine down the mountain, you never know with him. As I said, egos.”
Absentmindedly, he slid his blade along his penis. It was enough to bring Mikhail out of his trance.
“Small cock, not worth cutting,” he grunted with difficulty. He raised his Beretta and continued, “You don’t have enough respect for us, my dear. Especially not for impatient Russians. I am trained to resist your bag of tricks.”
Beads of sweat ran down his red face and his grey mane clung to his head like a dish mop. He started firing. The bullets zipped past the doctor into the water.
Suraporn didn’t move.
About 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 (www.sacredskinthailand.com).