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Ramonne

The Return of The Vampire of Siam

"I saw him in the bar at Trader Vic's…. and his hair was perfect." Warren Zevon

A year after he became embroiled in a seductive web of blood-letting, sexual excess, and mind-altering time shifting with a 175 year-old Vampire, Martin Larue returns to his adopted home of Bangkok a changed man. With his shaved head and orange robe, he is barely recognized by the doorman to his luxury apartment.

For twelve months he had studied the Dharma of the great teacher Buddha. Learned the noble truths. Practiced the three fundamental principles - Not to do any evil. To cultivate good. To purify the mind.

His transcendent nirvana is shattered by the appearance at his apartment of Police Lieutenant Samarat who seeks his help in tracking down a killer – a killer who drains the blood of his victims.

In a cave on the shore of Cambodia, Ramonne, the vampire, has also been reborn. A local Shaman had procured just enough of his ashes from his fiery demise, to concoct a mystical potion that when injected into an infant bat, metamorphosed into an adult male vampire.

When his transformation was complete, he was taken from the cave by Kanchana, a wealthy young woman who is terrified of a ravenous disease that has progressed through all female members of her family for the past fifty years. Her search for any way to avoid the plague she would soon succumb to led her to the Shaman. He gave Kanchana the promise that the evolving vampire, Ramonne offered her the only chance for salvation – the gift of eternal life.

Ramonne complies and for awhile there are a pair of vampires stalking the shadows of Bangkok. But Kanchana turns remorseful and refuses to kill. She moans for her soul-mate, Ramonne, who has abandoned her to pursue the quest for his own identity.

Martin is reunited with Areeyah, the sultry daughter of his and Ramonne's former nemesis Boonsong, and through their common suffering a romance is born. They join the new Police Lieutenant to help find what Martin prays is not a vampire. However Martin soon learns the truth.

Ramonne's path is forked as he stumbles into the world of Chinese ganglord Ping Narong and becomes a highly-paid hitman. His victims are nefarious and hard to get to. Not a problem for Ramonne. He is invincible. He drinks the blood of a disreputable gem smuggler in a glittering penthouse and decapitates the Minister of Vice in his bulletproof limo. Wanting to know about his powers he seeks out the Shaman. The blind Shaman gives Ramonne ancient texts in Braille which pose no trouble for the Vampire. His studies lead him to believe that he can offer Kanchana a return to the mortal world.

Ping gives Ramonne an assignment that involves tracking down an Arab terrorist who has entered Thailand through Malaysia to organize a bomb attack on one of Bangkok's infamous entertainment zones. Ping has major investments in the zones as well as involvement with prostitution, drug smuggling, and gambling – he figures this would be bad for business. Ramonne stalks the Arab, Mestaphel, and is appalled to learn of his plan to strap bombs to teenagers and send them into Patpong on a suicide mission.

Martin meets Kanchana on her suicide watch atop a lonely bridge and faces the fact that Ramonne has returned. Finding himself telekinetically attached to the vampire, he is able to sense Ramonne's presence. Once again he reluctantly leads the search for his destruction, while Ramonne tries to thwart the bombing.

Reborn, evolved, and enlightened – Martin and Ramonne's destinies seem inextricably entwined and meet in a firey conclusion in Patpong – nighttime home of sinners and shoppers.

Click here to see a promotional poster for Ramonne.

 

All books are available at all Asia Books & Bookazine stores. Signed copies of all books and CDs are available from the author. For more information please click here.




 
Press
 

The NATION November 6, 2005
"Ramonne – The Return of the Vampire of Siam"
Willat Pub./Asia Books 223 pp

A Shadow Of His Former Self


Last year American screenwriter Jim Newport wrote a novel called "The Vampire of Siam" that succeeded in its purpose: it entertained. It was that hoary chestnut, the vampire story, set in modern Bangkok.

Ramonne Delacroix, born in 1825, was a member of Henri Mouhot's 1860 French expedition up the Mekong when he was bitten by a 1,000-year-old Chinese vampire at Angkor Wat. In "The Vampire of Siam", he was living in plush digs beneath Lumpini Stadium and venturing forth at night to feed on the blood of his victims.

In the course of a journalistic investigation, wealthy heir Martin Larue made Ramonne's acquaintance after the yellow-eyed vampire decapitated his German bodyguard. Improbably enough, they developed a complex friendship, filled with acerbic dialogue and black humour. Martin gave Ramonne money and Romonne put him under sensual spells. Anyone who has read the book will never see the Brown Sugar jazz club in the same way.
The story ends with Martin blowing Ramonne away with a shotgun and cremating him on the sacred grounds of Wat Arun.

Well, you don't get rid of a 175-year-old vampire that easily.

It seems that cancer victim Kanchana Sorhiran wants to escape death by resurrecting Ramonne so he can turn her into a vampire. So she sends a servant to gather Ramonne's ashes and take them to a blind shaman named Charoen, who uses them in a potion that he injects into a bat.

The bat is transferred to a cave in Cambodia's Koh Kong where, after a year of gouging on bat blood, he is transformed back into his suave man-about-town former self. Thus we have "Ramonne", subtitled "The Return of the Vampire of Siam". As usual with sequels, it's not as good as the original. But Newport retains, from his first novel, a sharp sense of place for modern Bangkok. This is the trendy Bangkok of the Emporium Suites, the Skytrain, the Q Bar, the Bed Supperclub, the CP Tower and the open-air skyscraper spa of the Banyan Tree Hotel.

He writes of the Q Bar that 11.30 "was feeding time in this little zoo. The dance floor was packed with the prettiest girls in the kingdom. Models, actresses, secretaries, students, hookers - all gorgeous. Firm bums squeezed into leather microskirts and hip-hugging jeans, they gyrated to the non-stop trance music with their arms over their heads and their noses turned up."

What the sequel is lacking, however, is the core relationship between Ramonne and Martin. There is hardly any conversation between them this time around. They are more interested in women: Ramonne in Kanchana and Larue in Areeya "Yaya" Boonsong, daughter of a police general and an RCA hellion whom Ramonne kidnapped last time around and Martin saved. Locked in a loony bin for a while, she was so traumatised by her experience that she gave up drink and drugs and trendy friends for a year's solitude.

As for Martin, he did a year as a monk in a rustic temple in Ubon. When the police put the pair on the case of Ramonne again, they fall into each other's arms.

Ramonne has mellowed. He takes a job as a hit man for a mafia godfather so he'll only have to kill "bad people". He goes on a methodical rampage, killing unsavoury types like drug dealers and government ministers who raid nightclubs and shut them down early.

He does make an exception for the virgin whose throat he has to slit because he needs to bathe Kanchana in her blood as part of a ritual to restore her back to humanity again. Thus ends their romance.

Finally, under orders from the godfather, he enlists in a search for a Muslim terrorist named Mestaphel who plans to obliterate the Patpong Night Market via four teenage suicide bombers. Mestaphel is the classic cackling villain of melodrama, muttering praises to Allah as he murders the innocent. Ramonne swiftly tracks him down, experiencing an epiphany at the climax of the novel.

"After 140 years, I'm finally learning why I'm the way I am," he tells Martin on the night of his lifesaving mission on Patpong. "Why I'm here. I'm finally in touch with ... aware of ... my destiny... I think that just perhaps ... just possibly... instead of being a decimator of mankind's unwanted, instead of being a nefarious nightstalker, I just might possibly have a purpose."

A vampire with a heart of gold?

Dracula and his fellow vampires would make him turn in his union card.

James Eckardt/The Nation



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