My review today is part of a Blog Tour for Chris Thrall’s Eating Smoke. I’m also giving away a copy of the book, so keep reading!
Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find his fortune in Hong Kong, but instead found himself homeless and hooked on crystal meth. Soon he began working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest triad group, as a doorman in one of their nightclubs in the Wan Chai red-light district. Dealing with violence, psychosis and the ‘foreign triad’ – a secretive expat clique which, unbeknown to the world, works hand-in-hand with the Chinese mafia – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug.
I have to confess that this is the first book I’ve reviewed on this blog that I have not read completely. It wasn’t because the book wasn’t fascinating, because it is. But life’s been crazy lately and although, theoretically, I should have had plenty of time to read the book, life didn’t really work out that way. The book is 417 pages and I read the first 250 (last night), then the last chapter (this morning). Which I never do. But I had some questions that I hoped would be answered at the end, because if not, it affected the review. It seems they were, though.
This was an amazing read. Not so much because of what happens, but because of how the author tells it. Some people can just tell a good story and Thrall is certainly one of them. I did wonder before reading the book, and am still wondering, how can a person remember so much when they were constantly strung out on crystal meth. I know absolutely nothing about drugs, so I have no clue how meth affects people. It just seemed strange to me.
Wherever the story comes from, it’s a wild ride. I had no idea what to expect when I started reading, but Thrall is actually a very likable guy who is a serial bad-decision-maker. He even says, “Now I don’t think I’m a stupid guy. I’m just an average guy who does stupid things.” The action was interesting, and I can’t wait to sit down this evening and read the rest of the book, but what I loved were the emotions in the book. This is far from a dry account. It’s obvious that Thrall has a great sense of humor.
But that wasn’t all. Despite the crowds surrounding him, and the friends, some of whom he was actually able to count on when the going got tough, he still felt alone. At one point, his response to encouragement from a friend was, “It was a kind thing to say to a lost young man a long way from home.” And I loved this passage. It pretty much sums up the whole book. Thrall is a good guy with an addiction, and because of the drugs and to feed the addiction, he makes some really stupid decisions. (One could argue that the initial move to Hong Kong wasn’t the best decision, and he wasn’t even high then.)
“And don’t you feel a bit guilty, you know… like ripping people off?” the angel on my shoulder piped up. I don’t know why she was getting her knickers in a twist and acting all high and mighty all of a sudden. She’d just shut up and watched as I bought a boatload of drugs and shoveled them into my head.
The weird thing was how snakes kept turning up in the story. If there is really that high of a percentage of snakes in Hong Kong, they don’t have to worry about me (or Indiana Jones) ever visiting.
UPDATE: I finished the book, and it really does get even better. Wow. It is a little disconcerting reading about all the people and experiences, and not really knowing what’s real and what is a result of drug-induced paranoia. I can’t imagine living like that (the paranoia, not just the drugs) and I’m amazed that Thrall managed to hold it together as long as he did.
Enter below to win my copy of Eating Smoke. (Sorry, US only.) You fill out the form while I go finish the book. I’ve extended the giveaway until the end of the week because I didn’t have the full review posted.
About the book
Title: Eating Smoke: One man’s descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland
Author: Chris Thrall
Publisher: Blacksmith Books
Release date: October 16, 2011
Where I got the book: From the author in exchange for an honest review.
You can purchase Eating Smoke at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Where to find Chris online
Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour!