Slyly, almost imperceptibly, but quite relentlessly, Osborne subverts crime fiction as a genre and the world-view of its readers. As you turn the pages of this stylish and disquieting tale, you will find your fictions of choice and autonomy crumbling along with the Kingdom.
Bangkok is in a state of revolution, with young people demonstrating on the streets. She is befriended by the mysterious Mali, who has a string of Japanese admirers, and ushered into a twilight world of money-laundering.
But it is her maid Goi and janitor Pop who understand Sarah best, and delicately exploit her. The story may lack a fast, hard edge, but it is bewitching — though for me it has a touch more of Somerset Maugham than Greene.
The plot is minimalist. There may be easier ways to steal a suitcase of money, but that shouldn’t matter because, when it works, this kind of novel is fuelled not by plot but by menace, ideas and complex characters. The Glass Kingdom is definitely atmospheric, sometimes wonderfully so, but it takes more than atmosphere to build a new Graham Greene.