Okay, you’ve got a tough, wise-cracking American who’s a former Special Forces soldier and mercenary who is now partners in a bar in Bangkok but still does the odd, dangerous job on the side if the pay is right. Throw in a beautiful and seductive young woman who may or may not be who and what she claims to be, assorted gangsters, a Cambodian warlord, some missing documents that are very important, and a fortune in money that may be counterfeit, and what do you have? A Fifties Gold Medal by Dan Cushman or A.S. Fleischman, right?
Well, no. What you have is COME HERE . . . I’LL SHOW YOU, a new novel by Derek Lantin published by Bangkok Books. It’s set in contemporary Southeast Asia, an area that Lantin obviously knows well because the local color in this novel is outstanding. The plot, as you can tell from the details mentioned above, is vintage hardboiled paperback original, and Lantin does a fine job of making sure most of the characters have secrets that are revealed in the course of the story, as our hardboiled hero/narrator Edwards is hired by the beautiful Daniella to recover some important papers that her father had with him when he was killed in the jungle some years earlier. There’s a connection between Edwards and Daniella’s father, too, just to make things more complicated.
Lantin, a former RAF pilot and an engineer who’s worked all over the world, writes in a very distinctive, ultra-hardboiled style reminiscent of James Hadley Chase and the other British authors who wrote American-set “gangster” stories during the late Forties and Fifties. It’s a little hard to get used to and I think he may have overdone it a bit, but once I got into the story I found it pretty effective. I’ve said many times before that I like a book with a distinctive voice, and COME HERE . . . I’LL SHOW YOU certainly has that. I also thought the ending could have used a little more action and drama, but you know me and my fondness for slam-bang endings. Lantin does spring a last-minute surprise that I didn’t see coming, which is always a plus where I’m concerned.
Overall, COME HERE . . . I’LL SHOW YOU is an entertaining book, and since it’s Lantin’s first novel, it bodes well for his future as a writer. It’s available as an e-book from Amazon or through the publisher’s website.