Australian-born Private Investigator Jayne Keeney is enjoying a holiday in Krabi along with her business partner and lover, Rajiv, in the beautiful country she now calls home. Thailand continues to seduce her with guided tours and scenic locations, until she requests another trip with her favourite tour guide, the affable Pla, only to discover that her lifeless body was found floating in a cave that morning. The case is ruled a drowning, but Jayne, ever enmeshed in the lives of others, is suspicious. It’s a hunch that gets some traction when someone else close to Pla is summarily killed, and thus Jayne, another crime protagonist doomed to never enjoy a vacation, rolls up her sleeves and dives into Pla’s past.
The Dying Beach layers a killer’s bloody parallel narrative with a detective novel rich with the Thai way of life, and observations into the environmental effects of tourism and economic progress in a country famed for its natural beauty. She also looks into the attitudes of foreigners who want to fly in and change the world, bringing their own values and expectations to an environment full of cultural differences—something even longtime resident Jayne and Rajiv can be guilty of. Jayne, who, as the best kind of badass heroine, can speak the language and knock about with the best of them, is an endearing character to follow, even when her determination brings about emotional pain she may not be equipped to deal with, and physical danger she may not be able to survive.
A version of this review was originally published in Readings Monthly.