Too bad we'll never know ...
About fifty pages into this book I started thinking, “haven’t I heard all this somewhere before?”
After I finished reading, I looked carefully for supplementary text like introduction, appendix and other which greedy readers tend to brush aside impatiently – just tell us the story quick and keep moving, will you – but there was not a single mention of the phrase “Charles Sobhraj”.
Johnson Thaat’s Vietnamese mother drags him off to France to be with her French lover. Johnson does not feel at home and turns to crime. He later runs away to try and find a home with his Indian father in Poona.
Johnson is ruthless but irresistible to women. His is a crazy, wild story, replete with heroin, diamonds and bikinis. He and his lover dupe innocent tourists, drug them, kill them and steal all their money. Is it the lack of love in his life that turned Johnson Thaat into an inhuman killer or was he born like that? Do we really care?
Farrukh Dhondy writes well but I’m sorry to say this book didn’t hold my attention. Perhaps it might have if I had believed it to be the true story of Charles Sobhraj – but it became clear why this had not been possible when I later read headlines of the nature “Sobhraj readies to sue Dhondy over ‘Bikini Murders’.”