Chilling Collection of Thai Horror and Noir Hits Bookshelves

To travelers the world over Thailand is one of the most exotic places on earth – naturally lush, deeply spiritual, and hedonistic. In The Phantom Lover and Other Tales of Thailand award-winning author and longtime Thailand resident Jim Algie taps into the country’s fascinating culture in a way that Poe and Lovecraft fans will love.

In these short stories and novellas, a photojournalist is literally haunted by the images of everyone he has ever failed or exploited while getting a story. A human trafficker on Khaosan Road tries to escape from his life of crime and debauchery. An executioner explores the nature of violence in a painful search for Buddhism’s “loving kindness”. The country’s most infamous serial killer, based on a true crime story, tries to conjure up the Black Tiger God.

In “Tsunami,” the grand finale, the author puts his extensive experiences as a journalist to good use when recounting the tale of the biggest natural disaster of the 21st century.

The Thailand that these characters inhabit is a place full of wonders and demons – some born of dark magic, others born of a dark past. The stories portray their attempts to deal with many different shades of darkness and salvage some hope. In these gripping and heart-wrenching tales, Algie warps the boundary between the conceivable and the bizarre, proving that sometimes the surreal can seem very real indeed.


The Death Kiss of a King Cobra Show
Originally published in the Bram Stoker-winning anthology Extremes 2: Fantasy and Horror from the Ends of the Earth, the story is set at the Snake Farm on Phuket. In serpentine fashion, the plot twists around the violent conflict between a Thai snake-handler and an American Marine during the Cobra Gold military exercises, with the Serpent King of Buddhist lore lurking in the background.

Flashpoints in Asia
Long-listed for the World Fantasy Award in 2002, this tale is focused on an Australian photographer’s experiences during the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Bangkok in 1992, and at the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts in Penang when the horrific images from the gallery of his career and memories come back to haunt him.

Wet Nightmares
This second-prize winner from Chiaroscuro’s annual webzine contest looks at the desperate lengths one woman goes to in order to extricate herself from the flesh trade. Unlike other tales in the genre, this is not a blanket endorsement of Bangkok’s red-light districts. On the contrary, it details the woman’s experiences at the hands of sadistic customers and her desire to escape from the business by committing one big crime against a rich client.

The Legendary Nobody
Another tale long-listed for the Bram Stoker Award and referenced in my non-fiction collection Bizarre Thailand: Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic, the story details the wretched life and unspeakable crimes of the country’s most notorious, real-life serial killer, as he journeys from the battlefields of Hainan province in the ‘40s, where both the Japanese and Chinese soldiers practiced cannibalism, to Bangkok’s Chinatown of the 1950s, where he lived in the slums of the city’s once biggest red-light zone, Green Lantern Lane.

Obituary for the Khaosan Road Outlaws and Impostors
As the road was developing into backpacker central in Southeast Asia, it also became ground zero for foreign criminals – drug dealers, human traffickers, arms smugglers and con women – cashing in on the boom years of Thailand’s double-digit economic growth in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The giddy rise and perilous descent of that golden age, tarnished and vanished, is charted through the lives of crime of two young expats living on Khaosan Road, who are trying to reinvent themselves as gangsters, womanizers and dope fiends.

The Phantom Lover
Abortion is illegal in Thailand. Every year several hundred Thai women die of complications from botched abortions in backalley clinics. The nucleus of this novella is the friendship that develops between two young, high-society women  (a punk singer and a horror movie actress) coming to terms with the consequences of the actress’s abortion and the dissolution of her relationship. But abortion has a long and dark history in Thailand. That legacy overlaps with some of the region’s most ghoulish black magic practices, dating back to the time of Angkor Wat.

Life and Death Sentences
Based on the incredible life of Thailand’s last executioner – a man I interviewed many times before writing his 2012 obituary for the Bangkok Post – this is an unflinching look at capital punishment and the criminal injustice system in Thailand as seen through the eyes and gun-sight of the country’s most infamous triggerman.

The scene is Khao Lak Beach in southern Thailand. The day is December 26, 2004. On that morning an underwater earthquake triggered the largest natural disaster of the past century. Khao Lak was the hardest hit part of Thailand, with more than 5,000 casualties left in its wake and aftershocks that will ripple through the lives of the survivors forever after. Into this maelstrom the main characters from some of the previous stories – the snake-handler, the photographer, the prostitute and the human trafficker – are thrown together in a thrilling climax to the collection. Some nine years of reportage, both after the tsunami and during many subsequent trips to follow up on the survivors’ trauma and the authorities’ reconstruction efforts, went into this 42,000-word tale.


“Many people write about Thailand these days, but very few have the depth and breadth of Jim Algie. With the persistence of a seasoned journalist and the skill of a born story-teller he takes us places and reveals truths that lesser authors cannot begin to match.”
– John Burdett, author of Bangkok 8

“Jim Algie’s elegant, clean prose style delivers the cultural goods inside Southeast Asia with a great deal of wit and charm. These memorable stories spotlight the frontiers inhabited by the supernatural, backpackers, killers, legends, bar girl dreams, and customer nightmares. The stories map the boundary line between the Thais and the foreigners who live, work and die among them. And Algie has the talent to breathe fresh life and meaning into the conflicts that arise when the inevitable misunderstanding happens and a foreigner steps over the line.”
– Christopher G. Moore, author of the prize-winning Vincent Calvino mystery series

“The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand is perfect for those who want a fun crash course in the darker side of Thailand and its myths, superstitions and folklore. …Phantom entertains as well as informs, and is a great paperback for holidaymakers or indeed anybody who seeks some substance behind the Thai smile. ”
– The Bangkok Post

“The overall success of Phantom Lover cannot be denied, however. The book is at times intensely thought-provoking. What happens the rest of the time will guarantee every reader a few lost nights of sleep.”
– The Nation

“Thai expatriate Algie (Bizarre Thailand: Tails of Crime, Sex and Black Magic) reveals the seedy underbelly of his adopted country in this dark collection of erotically charged tales set in contemporary Bangkok and environs. Dispelling any doubt that Thai sex trade is flourishing, many of the stories describe how poverty and lack of education leave local women with no other way to earn a living.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Asian horror fiction is an expanding, yet still relatively unknown genre. Its rise follows the trend for Southeast Asia noir, and an increasing number of movies that use Bangkok’s sultry streets as a backdrop for tales of crime and the supernatural. But Jim Algie’s short-story collection, The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand, aims to go further, tapping into the deep vein of superstition that runs through Thai society and blurring the line between precarious reality and a disturbing dream world.
– South China Morning Post

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