The third book in my 12 in 12 Challenge for February is set in Cambodia and Thailand and differs from the first two in that it is written by an author who is not an inhabitant of the country and it was originally published in English. The book is a thriller by Peter May and called The Noble Path. It is a recent reprint of a book which was first published some years ago and the story in set in the late 1970s.
This is a thriller in the vein of Alistair Maclean and Frederick Forsyth, The author is best known for his crime novels of which The Black House is probably the most famous – I highly recommend it and its sequels. You might best describe this story as an adventure, as Jack Elliott, the main character, is a mercenary who travels to the war torn country of Cambodia in order to rescue a small family who were left behind to face the regime of the Khmer Rouge. Jack and his companions have to face trials and tribulations including betrayal by those they thought they could trust. In a parallel story Jack’s daughter, having just discovered that her father is alive, travels to Thailand in order to meet him and experiences her own traumas and betrayals.
This is not a book about the experience of the people of both these countries although the author does portray the vicious conditions in which they live in Cambodia and what the refugees have to experience. The main characters are a mix of native people and ex-pats who live the best they can in difficult situations – some thrive and some do not. The author also spends some time describing the country and its natural environment as well as the cities, both busy and abandoned. This provided an unusual setting for the story.
If you like a good adventure yarn you will probably enjoy reading this book. I thought that the author had some interesting things to say about the vulnerability of innocence and what people need to do to survive in difficult times but the book is designed to be a gripping story rather than a work of literary fiction. It is a stand-alone novel and not one that I would probably reread. I bought it originally at a reduced price from a supermarket and it will now go off to a charity shop for someone else to enjoy.