"Laundry Man", by Jake Needham

Laundry Man (Jack Shepherd, No. 1) - Jake Needham

Book #1, in the Jack Shepherd crime novel series

The backdrop in this first installment is the vibrant city of Bangkok where we will follow Jack Shepherd who has given up a high-profile job in a DC law firm to take a post as a teacher at Chulalongkorn University. But life is not tranquil for Jack and takes a turn when an ex-colleague supposedly dead for some time calls in the middle of the night, scared out of his wits and desperately wanting to meet him….the laundry man is off and running and things soon gets interesting…..

I definitely was expecting that with a title like “Laundry Man” it should have been all about “cleaning” money, international finances, shady deals and nefarious sorts. I was not disappointed on this point.

Although, the story lacked suspense for a good part the novel as it centered on laundering money, bad banks and financial misdeeds, it did picked up a brisk pace as Jack bounced from lead to the next, from one red herring to another stumbling around exploring various contacts, some of them colourful characters, lots of them chichi type whose real occupations were unclear, and some of them turning up dead. ¾ into, the story shifted gears and became an exciting thriller with Jack changing from a banker/professor into a soft version of Jackie Chan…….unfortunately things petered out by the finale. Maybe once again the unsatisfying ending may be a ruse to lure us in pursuing with the series in order to see what is in store for the intrepid protagonist next. Definitely without any doubts and it is working my end……next “The Umbrella Man” is already on my TBR list.

The prose is clean, evocative and is infused with a sense of place….maybe a bit too much. The author’s technical details of banking and money laundering is well explained and not overly done to be extremely boring. We have panoply of characters to keep track of, quite a challenge at times to picture who is who and where they fit in, eventually it becomes clear.

Overall, a pretty good story