Serpentine by Thomas Thompson

SerpentineSerpentine by Thomas Thompson

With compelling style and suspense this true-crime book reconstructs the bizarre, bloody journey of a mesmerizing but sinister young man named Charles Sobhraj. Sweeping back and forth over half the globe — from the boulevards of Paris to the slopes of Mount Everest to the underbellies of Bangkok and Hong Kong — Sobhraj left in his wake a trail of baffling mystery and inexplicable horror. He also led the police of a dozen nations on a chase that ended at least twelve and possibly twenty-four corpses later with a mere seven-year prison sentence in Delhi. Besides offering a riveting narrative of serial murder and a years-long manhunt, this singular volume examines the lives not only of the intelligent, charismatic, conscienceless, and thoroughly dangerous Sobhraj but also of the unsuspecting victims that he drugged, robbed, sometimes tortured, and without a qualm often killed. A chilling tale of deadly coincidences set in exotic, glamorous locales, Serpentine offers a reading experience as frightening as it is unforgettable.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst the story of Charles Sobhraj is an interesting one, this book could have benefited from being shorter, in my opinion. The author did a excellent job of researching and fact collecting, but the book was so bogged down by minutia that at times, it became boring and the flow of the story was lost on me.

Even so, if you can wade through the many details, you will likely find this book very interesting. The early life of serial killer Charles Sobhraj was recounted in such a manner that you can get a clear and concise portrait of his mental struggles, including his co-dependent relationship with his mother and his fiery temper, often fueled by the fair-weather relationship with his biological father.

As the book progresses and Charles ages, it becomes clear that he has a very elastic sense of right and wrong and that he lives his life as he chooses, with only his own satisfaction in mind. His moral sense is absolutely misguided and the author makes this perfectly clear.

If you are looking for a true crime book that will make you stop and think about nature Vs. nurture, this is a good one to choose. Overall, I thought it was very entertaining.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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