When an Australian artist named Max Somerville commits suicide, a series of events is put into motion. His daughter Candace is arrested at a Thailand airport for transportation of heroin and thrown into Klong Prem, a filthy prison. Candy’s brother Vern and her Uncle Travis travel to Bangkok to try to break her out somehow, and Mr. Kelly, an old friend of Max Somerville’s who has diplomatic immunity, enters the picture as a party knowledgeable of Thai customs and means.
When Vernon meets up with a lovely blonde journalist named Annmaree, she immediately asks for his help to get an interview with his sister. She sees it as the story of a lifetime, thinking people will want to know why Candy wants to be executed and is so adamant at being left in such a desolate and abusive place. Interview after interview, Annmaree is hit with spiteful comments from Candy and only gets anywhere with a gift of a cigarette. Even then, what she has isn’t enough to make a good story, and she decides to get more intimate with Candy’s brother.
Uncle Travis develops intimacies of his own, but mostly with Thai hookers. He discovers a confidante in Mr. Kelly’s Mia Noi, the lovely Sukanya, who has various connections to the underground communities in Bangkok, having worked in the Jack of Hearts as a prostitute for two years.
This book is a marvelous example of how effective character and perspective can be used in a text. It is divided into six sections, each of which focuses on a particular character’s perspective of the storyline. Only in reading all sections can the reader discover what will become of Candace, if she will indeed be released from Klong Prem, and who, if anyone, will die in the process of her release.