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In 1943 on Bougainville Island, New Guinea, a Japanese officer beheads Hugh Rand, an Australian spy a coast watcher. The spectators include villagers he terrorised as his mind frayed under the stress of pursuit by soldiers and their hounds. Rand's influence transcends his death. For decades he plagues characters who strive to cope with him and one another in New Guinea, the Gilbert Islands, Australia and Japan. Who misperceives? Lies? Self-destructs? Suffers? Loves? The layers unfold as the author entices us through cultural, historical and intellectual curtains, deep into minds and relationships disturbed by the Pacific war and Rand's legacy.
Makcik Maryam and Rubiah once again investigate murder in a small Kelantan town. Someone has been killed at a top-spinning contest, hit by a gasing, a heavy metal spinning top, that had no business flying as it did according to all laws of physics. Malaysia's most famous female amateur sleuths suspect not only foul play, but black magic, and are determined to rid Kelantan of the source of evil. Join them in their fifth adventure assisting the Kota Bharu Police Department, or vice versa, in Spinning Top, the latest in the award-winning Kain Songket Mystery Series.
Set against the development of Singapore in the years 1852-1869, Hungry Ghosts (Singapore Saga, Vol 3) continues the vivid portrayal of the lives of the early pioneers, including Tan Kim Ching, W. H. Read, Habib Noh, Tan Kim Seng, Mother St Mathilde, Syed Ahmed Alsagoff and Whampoa as well as an array of fictional characters who bring nineteenth-century Singapore to life. A female refugee from the Taiping rebellion is kidnapped in Amoy and sold as a concubine in Singapore; a terror-filled secret society soldier is led down to the ten courts of hell on the night of the hungry ghosts; Duncan Simpson meets with the Taiping Heavenly King in Nanking, and is tortured in a Chinese prison and a Buddhist monk has an unforgettable encounter with a female corpse. As the fates and fortunes of its protagonists play themselves out against the backdrop of the Indian Mutiny, the Second Opium War and the last years of the Taiping rebellion, Singapore becomes a Crown colony and celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its founding. Hungry Ghosts is volume three in the Singapore Saga, a series of historical fiction covering the early years of Singapore, and follows Forbidden Hill and Chasing the Dragon.
Thai island girl Thanikarn's chances of meeting a good Thai man were limited and foreigners couldn't be trusted. On the Thai island of Koh Samui, Thanikarn, a masseuse with traditional values, has never fallen in love until she meets Lucas, a dashing French American musician, ten years her junior. After a brief and passionate affair, Lucas returns home and Thanikarn doubts she'll ever see him again. But Lucas leaves Thanikarn with more than just memories, including a song that he composes and records for her. While Thanikarn bravely navigates adulthood alone, making life choices, moving to the island of Phuket and developing new friendships, she is unaware that Lucas' singing career is taking off. Will Thanikarn find out what has become of Lucas? Will their lives ever cross again? Only unforeseen events and the gift of a song will decide.
In post-WWII Laos, Vietnamese communists secretly commence to infiltrate the kingdom. They are countered by four dedicated Lao ';moles' who try to thwart these aims. Gurkha Colonel Jason Rance is unwittingly dragged into a confrontation between one of the Lao moles and a Thai spy and the mole gives him a ring as a reward for saving his life. During his appointment in Laos as military attache, Rance becomes a target of the KGB and of the Vietnamese communists, and is sought by the remaining three Lao moles because of the ring in his possession. Rance's two Lao language instructors are nieces of the Lao king and London hopes that, by stealth, Rance might, through them, persuade the king delay his coronation no further in an effort to prevent the spread of communism southwards. Can the new military attache manage to do the seemingly impossible? Based on historical fact and the author's personal experience, Operation Stealth is the fourth in a series of books involving Gurkha military units that may be read in any order and includes Operation Black Rose, Operation Janus, Operation Blind Spot and Operation Four Rings. The author, JP Cross, a much revered retired Gurkha colonel, draws on real characters and events he witnessed across various theatres of war.
The eccentric Mr Hare as he was known to Sophia, the first wife of Singapore founder Thomas Stamford Raffles and his Asian harem are brought vividly to life in this work of historical fiction set in Southeast Asia. Arthur Grimsby is an ageing expat in 1960s Singapore. Museum curator, ornithologist, freshly bereaved, he fears Singapore's looming independence and his redundancy and tries to complete one final piece of work: the life story of an eccentric 19th-century Englishman called Alexander Hare. Hare was a trader and slave-owner in the East and a friend of Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant Governor of Java and the founder of Singapore, but Hare's chief claim to fame is as the creator of an Asian harem, including in his collection women from Java, Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, the Malay Peninsula, China, India and Africa. Hare's love of women and his assembling of a harem, initially in Borneo and then on an uninhabited atoll that would become the Cocos-Keeling Islands, made him an object of guilty male fantasies and of strident female resentments, the epitome of masculine, colonial exploitation. But Arthur Grimsby's paths are no straighter than Alexander Hare's and the two grow together as their destinies intertwine.
In 1669, fleeing a London decimated by the plague and the Great Fire, a young English child arrived, alone, at Fort St. George, the first English fortress in Mughal India. The boy survived to become a maverick merchant-mariner, an ';independent' trading on the fringes of the East India Company. Captain Thomas Bowrey gained renown in numerous fields. Operating throughout the East Indies and speaking Malay, the lingua franca of diplomacy and trade in the region, he would write and publish the first ever Malay-English dictionary, a seminal work that even a century later would be used by the likes of Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. It has also been claimed Bowrey wrote the earliest first-hand account of the recreational use of cannabis. Bowrey's shipping interests, however, were plagued by pirates, privateers and mutiny and included the tragic Worcester, which played a pivotal role in the union of England and Scotland. Subsequent projects included the east African slave trade and his collaboration with Daniel Defoe in the founding of the South Sea Company. Despite everything, Bowrey succeeded in amassing sufficient fortune for alms-houses to be built in his name following his death, but his true legacy is his papers that lay hidden in an attic for two centuries and which now shed light not only on the exploits of this remarkable man but also on life and commerce at the start of globalisation.
This is Thailand. Legal, illegal ... those terms are defined by who you are, who you know, how much money you have. Alex Marek's once idyllic life in southern Thailand is being shattered. He is about to lose his job. The woman he loves is facing financial devastation that could separate them forever. He desperately needs to save her and ensure their life together. It is then that the reclusive and sometimes violent offshore oil worker John Hunter tells him of his wild scheme to make money, lots of money, by looting an ancient temple hidden deep in the Thai jungle. And he needs a partner.
Promising sun, sea, sand and more, Pattaya beach resort in Thailand lures eight million foreign tourists annually. However, behind the glitter lurks broken dreams, ethereal ecstasy and, often, tragedy. And behind every bargirl's smile and every foreigner's beer glass lurks a story: happy, touching, heart-wrenching.The author interviews bargirls, mamasans and customers, who reveal true stories of sex scams, doomed relationships and tragic suicides. The author's investigation takes him to the capital, Bangkok, as well as to an Isaan village in northeastern Thailand, and further afield to Saigon in Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. He returns to Pattaya with a warning: You enter the manipulative world of the Pattaya bargirls at your own risk!
'Remember when you are far away up country, possibly the only Englishwoman there, that these men will note and remember your every action not only as a nurse but as a woman.' Florence Nightingale. When a young northern girl quietly dropped home economics in favour of the three sciences, against her parents' wishes, little did she expect to rise through the ranks of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (the QAs), the nursing branch of the British Army, and follow in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale, to whom the QAs trace their heritage, healing injured soldiers far from home as well as educating and recruiting sisters back in Britain. In this heartfelt memoir, spanning the 1950s and '60s, Major Margaret Thomas ARRC recalls preparing operating theatre supplies for Suez, avoiding the wrath of the President of Ghana, working with Canadians in a military hospital in Germany, toiling day and night in Singapore with casualties flown in from Borneo, enjoying R&R in Penang and being presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Through her reminisces we learn of the special relationship between the troops and the sisters - QAs being a combination of 'mum' and 'sweetheart' depending on the age of the soldier and the severity of his injuries. Margaret recalls happy, sad and sometimes hilarious incidents with service patients and she embodies all that Florence Nightingale hoped for in an army nurse: compassion, skill, discipline and an appetite for adventure.
Life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is no party ... or so we thought. In Saudi Arabia Undercover, expat Harper Walsh busts this myth with true stories of homemade alcohol, pill popping, parties staffed by pretty Ethiopian girls in expat gated compounds, smuggled bacon sandwiches and frequent trips over the border into Bahrain for booze and sex. With few opportunities for Saudi men to interact with women - beyond flirtatious eye contact with burqa-clad supermarket checkout girls and the unceasing sexual abuse of Filipina maids - the use of gay dating apps is rife. In this hilarious piece of gonzo journalism, Walsh and his merry band of expat misfits walk readers down the male-dominated streets of Saudi Arabia, where a Friday night's entertainment might include a visit to McDonald's followed by a public decapitation at Chop Chop Square, and on much-deserved R&R breaks to Bahrain, Bangkok and Cairo, where a glass of cold beer does not invite 100 lashes, imprisonment and certain deportation.
In 1938 Malaya, Japanese intelligence officers and pro-Independence Indians conspire to test their suspicions about British intelligence officer Philip Rance by attempting to burgle his office. The plot is foiled by Rance's teenage son, Jason, who must move to England to escape revenge. Singapore and Malaya fall to the Japanese and captured Indian POWs are enlisted in the anti-British 'Indian National Army' under Subhas Chandra Bose. All four unsuccessful burglars are involved: one re-enters India by submarine, two by parachute and the fourth is sent to fight against British forces in Burma. Having been commissioned in India, the young Jason Rance now serves in a Gurkha battalion. Detailed to teach the Chinese army in India about Bren guns before being attached to a Nepalese unit for sniper work, he finds himself unwittingly involved against all four renegades who try to kill him. Based on historical fact and the author's personal knowledge, Operation Black Rose is the first in a series of books involving Gurkha military units that may be read in any order and includes Operation Janus, Operation Blind Spot, Operation Stealth and Operation Four Rings. The author, JP Cross, a retired Gurkha colonel, draws on real characters and events he witnessed across various theatres of war.
In Buddhism greed, hatred and delusion are known as The Three Poisons. The most destructive of these three is hatred: The Second Poison. When Tony, a former US Army interrogator, travels to Thailand to track down those responsible for ripping off his father in a boiler room telesales scam, he soon finds himself embroiled in the murky underworld of illegal muay thai kickboxing gambling, money laundering, sex work and digital crime. The Second Poison explores hatred, revenge and redemption in present-day Thailand from a number of perspectives: the hardened farang (Caucasian) army veteran; the compassionate Thai girl born a boy, who once murdered her sister's rapists; the godfather of a Hong Kong gambling syndicate and the Thai cop who turns a blind eye to crimes of passion ... their stories intertwining throughout the book.
Colonial Singapore. A love triangle. Will one woman's jealousy destroy everyone? It is 1931 in colonial Singapore. A Chinese bondmaid of fifteen stands trial for her aunt's murder. Mei Mei, born on the inauspicious double seventh day, feels her doomed destiny taking over. The tide turns. Mei Mei and an English boy, Richard, fall in love. However, British-born Clementine has set her heart on marrying Richard and the social divide between coloniser and native keep the lovers apart. It is 1942. Japanese bombs are falling over Singapore. Richard rekindles his desperate romance with Mei Mei. To what lengths will Clementine go to separate the lovers? When Mei Mei disappears in the bombing and Richard is injured and loses his memory, is the path finally clear for Clementine to claim Richard as her own?
When young western tourist Neil meets Indonesian girl Yossy on Kuta beach and decides to settle permanently in Bali he knows his life is about to change forever but will it be the paradise he is yearning for? As cracks start to appear in Neil's halcyon existence, he is forced to re-evaluate all he holds dear. Twilight in Kuta explores love, loss and infidelity in present-day Indonesia from a number of perspectives: the bule (Caucasian) English teacher, the duplicitous Indonesian wife, the mixed-race schoolgirl, the Javanese ex-soldier and the naive village girl desperate for love. Their stories intertwine throughout the book, and the various narrators offer different interpretations of the events that unfold. Love and lies in Indonesia
What happens when an adoring young bride is met on the doorstep of her new home by her husband's former mistress? Frank, Rose and Nony are about to find out. It is 1924 and the British rule Malaya. Frank is a colonial administrator in a remote district deep in the jungle. Rose is the innocent young bride he's just brought out from England. Nony is the native mistress he'd previously abandoned, along with their four children. When Rose arrives in Malaya, she knows nothing of her new husband's past. But how long can she remain ignorant? Frank, Rose and Nony soon become entangled in vines of secrecy and lying, they are snagged by thorns of bribery and blackmail, and caught in sticky webs of bluff and counter-bluff. Something must give between them: but what?
In George Town, the capital of Penang, the Pearl of the Orient and a Malaysian island hugely popular with domestic and international tourists, trishaws ply the streets ferrying tourists between colonial buildings, temples, food spots and bars. The more enterprising trishaw drivers offer sightseeing with sex, sometimes with unexpected results. Through candid interviews with sources in the sex industry, as well as Penang's trishaw riders, the author discovers shocking scams, pitiful repentances and happy-ending massages that don't end happy. Penang Undercover also looks beyond Penang to the neon lights of neighbouring Hatyai and Bangkok in Thailand to expose the shenanigans of mamasans, bargirls, dream-makers and liars. Finally, the author unearths a few hidden nuggets from his hometown of Kuala Lumpur and the subject of his fi rst two books in the Undercover series. Typical of his style, this book is written with wit and candour.
Java's pilgrimage culture is a dense, batik-like pattern of contradictions: seriousness collides with laughter; curiosity with bewilderment; piety with scepticism; intense spirituality with, in some places, the joy of shopping. The pilgrimage culture on the island of Java in Indonesia the world's largest Muslim country is a rebuke to the conservative orthodoxy that has been gaining ground in Indonesia's religious landscape since the 1980s. In the rhetoric of this orthodoxy the ';real' Islam is pure and exclusive. Piety comes from obedience to religious authority and its rules. Local pilgrimage is anything but pure and exclusive or rigidly authoritarian. It is powerfully Islamic but it fuses Islam with local history, the ancient power of place and a pastiche of devotional practices with roots deep in the pre-Islamic past. Quietly but tenaciously just outside the great echo chamber of public space it is growing as fast as the higher profile neo-orthodoxy. Bandit Saints of Java delves deep under the surface of modern Indonesia, exploring personalities and stories in the weird world of local pilgrimage, where Middle Eastern Islam wrestles with the ancient power of Javanese civilisation. It paints an astonishing portrait of Islam as it is practised today largely invisible to journalists, scholars and tourists by many of Java's 130 million people.
Seventeenth-century Java is in turmoil between its Hindu-Buddhist past and its Muslim future, while pepper draws Europe's quarrelling spice-hungry traders to its shores. Thomas Hodges of the East India Company seizes a chance at glory by being the first to venture ashore at the pepper port of Banten in 1608. Will he unlock the mysterious riches of Java for the English, or die forgotten with a Javanese kris or Portuguese poignard between his ribs? He falls under the spell of a captivating interpreter, Sri, but can only retain both her and his Englishness by inventing a mission from King James to the mysterious great ruler of the interior Mataram. In Mataram he finds a kingdom poised to decide its destiny between a rich past of gods and spirits, a sterner Islam and pushy Europeans offering both science and God. For Hodges and Sri, survival alone will be a challenge; reconciling survival and desire with conscience in this baffling spiritual landscape appears impossible.
Chasing the Dragon is volume two in the Singapore Saga, a series of historical fiction that spans the first 100 years of Singapore, and follows Forbidden Hill.
A mother finds out her son is gay; a daughter finds out her two mothers are lesbians; a niece stumbles upon the body of her dead uncle dressed in his wife's sarong kebaya; and an old man's nascent feelings for a Filipino maid lead him back to his suppressed art. The Man Who Wore His Wife's Sarong, Suchen Christine Lim's short stories of the unsung, unsaid and uncelebrated in Singapore, delve beneath the sunlit island's prosperity and coded decorum. Her characters chip away prejudice and sculpt it into acceptance of the other. Previously published in part as The Lies that Build a Marriage (shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2008), this new collection contains five additional stories.
It is 1948 and the British in Malaya are struggling to put down a Communist uprising and deal with rising nationalism in the colony. Chinese girl Suyin falls in love with a British police officer and is able to see both sides of the war but she sympathizes more with the Communist guerrillas and is critical of the British colonials. A much-loved classic and an important work in the canon of Singapore literature.
Not many British schoolgirls have grown up to become revolutionary heroes of distant, eastern nations but Muriel Stewart Walker did just that. Under a multitude of different names ';K'tut Tantri' and ';Surabaya Sue' being the best know she joined in the struggle for Indonesian independence after the Second World War and broadcast its revolutionary message to the world on Rebel Radio. But she did more and smuggled arms, and probably drugs, to help finance the new Republic and experienced bloody battle in the British attack on Surabaya that some have seen as a war crime. She went on to become an intimate of the revolutionary leaders and finally lived to see Indonesia take its place amongst the free nations of the world. Glaswegian ';Surabaya Sue' is virtually unknown in the West and, even in Indonesia, there have always been doubts about her version of events that many have dismissed outright as a blatant mixture of outrageous fantasy and dishonest omissions. Snow over Surabaya happily embraces those doubts and brings a new, spirited account of her adventures in that tempestuous world.
In the fourth installment of the award-winning Kain Songket Mysteries detective series set in east coast Malaysia, amateur sleuth Aunty Maryam investigates the death of a winning contestant at a kite flying contest. With little experience, the winner is found to have beaten some of Kelantan's best competitors, but no one knows why he suddenly took up the sport. Aunty Maryam's investigation leads her into a labrynth of unexpected relationships in a seemingly peaceful village. Moon Kite is the fourth in Barbara Ismail's series of Kain Songket Mysteries based in Kelantan. The first book in the series, Shadow Play, won Best Debut Novel at the 2012 SBPA Book Awards in Singapore and was shortlisted for the PopularThe Star Readers' Choice Awards 2013 in Malaysia; the second book in the series, Princess Play, was shortlisted for the PopularThe Star Readers' Choice Awards 2014 in Malaysia.
By the time the British surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942 at the fall Singapore, nearly all white civilians had left Malaya. One remarkable exception to the white flight was Nona Baker, ';a parson's youngest daughter' from Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Nona Baker and her brother, Vin, general manager of Sungei Lembing tin mine in Pahang, stayed behind in the Malayan jungle and were later adopted by Chinese guerrillas (who, after World War Two, would become the Communist terrorists of the Malayan Emergency). Against all odds, this remarkable, brave young woman, known as Pai Naa (White Nona), remained in the jungle for three years, avoiding capture by the Japanese and betrayal by spies before being delivered safely into the care of war hero Freddie Spencer Chapman. With hair cut short Nona Baker worked alongside the men while under constant threat of discovery and certain death, and with the men she suffered from malaria, dysentery, beriberi, hunger and, above all, fear.
Through a collection of letters written to his best friend and to his father in England, and from his own personal diary entries, John Dodd's memoir offers a fascinating and amusing glimpse of life as a colonial rubber planter. With true stories and confessions that would make even Somerset Maugham blush, we discover what life was really like for young colonial planters in late-1950s Malaya. Increasing daily rubber output may have been their goal but for the young planters the bigger picture of chasing girls and finding a ';keep' was of much greater importance. But life was more than just a series of stengahs in the clubhouse, dalliances in the Chinese brothels of Penang and charming ';pillow dictionaries' there were strikes, riots, snakes, plantation fires and deadly ambushes by Communist terrorists to contend with. Set against the backdrop of the Emergency period, the rise of nationalism and Malaya's subsequent Independence, A Company of Planters is a very personal, moving and humorous account of one man's experiences on the frequently isolated rubber plantations of colonial Malaya.
Skinny Chinese taxi-girls dance with off-duty British military personnel at the Yam Yam nightclub to the strains of ';Rose, Rose, I love you' and ';Terang Bulan'. Attractively dressed in their long, tight-fitting, slit-sided cheongsams, the girls also listen out for loose talk, which they feed back to their Communist handlers. It is 1950s Malaya and the country is in the throes of the Malayan Emergency. As the British do battle with Communist terrorists hiding deep in the jungle, one British officer, a Communist sympathizer, has come to the attention of the staff at the Yam Yam. When Alan Hinlea, a British Gurkha captain with a hatred of a class system that has always kept him down, deserts to the guerillas and is spirited away to the jungle Communist HQ, Chin Peng, the leader of the Malayan Communist Party gloats at what he hopes will be a major propaganda victory. A fellow British Gurkha officer is despatched with five Gurkhas to hunt Hinlea down and the chase through pathless jungle becomes a race against time and a contest of deadly jungle warfare skills. Operation Janus is the first in a trilogy of books involving Gurkha military units that may be read in any order and is followed by Operation Blind Spot and Operation Four Rings. The author, JP Cross, a retired Gurkha colonel, old ';jungle hand' and counter-insurgency expert, draws on real events he witnessed during his time fighting in the Malayan Emergency and on true characters, including a British officer of his own battalion who attempted to join the Communist terrorists.
On 6 February 1819, Stamford Raffles, William Farquhar, Temenggong Abdul Rahman and Sultan Hussein signed a treaty that granted the British East India Company the right to establish a trading settlement on the sparsely populated island of Singapore. Forbidden Hill (Singapore Saga, Vol. 1) is a meticulously researched and vividly imagined historical narrative that brings to life the stories of the early European, Malay, Chinese and Indian pioneers--the administrators, merchants, policemen, boatmen, coolies, concubines, slaves and secret society soldiers--whose vision and intrigues drive the rapid expansion of the port city in the early decades of the nineteenth century. While Raffles and Farquhar clash over the administration of the settlement, the Scottish merchant adventurer Ronnie Simpson and Englishwoman Sarah Hemmings find love and redemption as they battle an American duelist and Illanun pirates. As the ghosts of the rajahs of the ancient city of Singapura fade into the shadows of Forbidden Hill, the new settlers forge their linked destinies in the 'emporium of the Eastern seas'.
In December 1950, the worst riots Singapore has ever seen shut down the town for days, killing 18 people and wounding 173. Racial and religious tension had been simmering for months over the custody battle for wartime waif Maria Hertogh between her Malay Muslim foster mother and her Dutch-Catholic biological parents. In May 1950, Eurasian Annie Collins, following this case and filled with hope, returns to Singapore seeking her own lost baby Maria. As the time bomb ticks and Annie unravels the threads of her quest into increasingly dangerous territory, she finds strange recollections intruding, ones that have nothing to do with her own memories of her wartime experiences: disturbing visions and dreams which force her to doubt not just her past life, but her whole idea of who she truly is and even to question the search itself. Finding Maria is at once a mother's quest for her child, an unravelling mystery and a journey into suppressed memory and the nature of self-delusion.
Beyond the Bali known from idyllic images of Hollywood movies and five-star resort holidays are the secret lives of men and women who flock to the island from around the world in search of new beginnings. Not all find the bliss and peace they hope for. Island Secrets is a collection of stories about lives fraught with scandal, conflict, heartache and despair. A western wife of a Balinese man enjoys a happy marriage and all the trappings of island wealth but the arrival of a man from home throws her life into turmoil as she surrenders to his seduction. A successful middle-aged ad exec leaves his family to become an artist; he lives an enviable life with a beautiful woman half his age but he soon finds himself weary of paradise. A recently divorced woman goes on a solo holiday and is irresistibly drawn to an attractive young man of dubious intentions. Bali-resident Alwin Blum offers up vignettes of Bali with characters who navigate their new lives in the sunshine and tropical splendour of the island while harbouring darkness within. Some stay for a season, others for the rest of their days. Some come to forget through sensual escapades, while others re-invent themselves to fit with the brand-new lives they have created.