In a departure from his regular series, Peter May gives his readers a monumental stand-alone novel dealing with events in Cambodia and Thailand during the period of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. It was a time of massive murder of the people of these countries by a group of homicidal maniacs that had taken power with unlimited self-awarded powers.
Two people are featured as central characters in order to tell two separate stories of those affected by the horrors of events in Cambodia and Thailand. First is Jack Elliot, a soldier of fortune who has been tasked with bringing out a wife and two children from the domain of the Khmer Rouge by their father who had deserted the family as they were taken away. He now expresses regrets and is willing to pay Jack to mastermind their freedom and bring them to him.
The second is 18-year-old Lisa Robinson,vwho is actually Jack’s daughter and is looking for her father. Jack does not know he has a daughter. On the other hand, Lisa has caught a glimpse of her father at her mother’s funeral.
Lisa decides to look for her father, and learning from a friend of his that he has gone to Cambodia, decides to travel there to search for him. May is able to draw in the reader with his description of Lisa’s travels, and her loss of any innocence she may have come with when faced with the reality of what she encounters.
May paints pictures of both individuals to tell the story. First Jack, assembling a small crew of himself and two others, and their trip into the interior of the area ruled by the Khmer Rouge. The author’s graphic description of the horrors inflicted on the people is probably the best I’ve read delineating the monumental excesses of a group that was admittedly more maniacal than any other such savages down through history. The reader is there looking on and in all probability, will not be able to stop following the descriptions. The period was followed by reporters of all media, but nothing they ever wrote can bring out what Peter May does.
The novel is an excellent one and even if alone as the author’s product does inscribe him into a select group of writers.
10/19 Paul Lane
THE NOBLE PATH by Peter May. Quercus; Reprint edition (October 29, 2019). ISBN 978-1787477957. 544p.