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In 1967 Jim Thompson disappeared in the Malaysian Cameron Highlands. I was first acquainted with Jim Thompson when I visited his Thai house on a trip to Bangkok (see seperate opinion, or don't bother and see the house instead if in Bangkok). This really wet my appetite and the book was mentioned while we were there. On returning to Britain 7 months later I was still interested so got this book. The author of the book, as he makes clear at the end, was a friend of Thompson's. That said he was not a very close one, not part of the inner circle, but close enought to know and observe him and have at least some pertinent personal insight. The book starts by talking of the actual disappearance, in effect setting out its stall and the enticing readers with the nature of the mystery. Basically Jim disappeared with seemingly no trace, no clues and this started the mystery. The book obviously gives more detail and more potential plot threads. Once the nature of the mystery is established the book details the first legend of Jim. Without the first legend the mystery would not be so important. That is to say if an ordinary person disappeared the story would not endure thirty years. Jim worked for the predecessor of the CIA in the war and then aged 40 basically single handedly rebuilt the Thai cottage silk industry into a multi-million pound (dollar) industry. The book talks of personal struggles, strife, conflict, interests and other things which add to the first legend. The book then goes onto the second legend, how his disappearance snowballed into major international conspiracy. The book introduces some of the more colourful characters to get involved in the case. Many of these people are psycics, both local and Western and their stories are interesting on their own as well as part of the whole. Other things are introduced to add to the detail of why the mystery has become so big, like the death (murder) of his sister.
Throughout the second section theories are explored and dismissed, evidence presented followed by counter evidence. It is quite gripping stuff. Lastly a roundup is done. did Jim die in the jungle, was it suicide, was it ransom gone wrong or was it politically motivated. Again for and against are given. The author states his opinion is clear, I fear it is not. This doeas allow the reader to make up their own mind though. Overall the book is a good read, especially if you have heard of Jim before and therefore want to know more. It does not give the answer to the mystery, but no-one can. My main gripe is that it is too much like an American documentary, at times I could almost hear William Shatner saying some of the lines. It may raise more questions than it answers but it is a good read and one I really enjoyed. It makes me want to read more about Jim, rather than more by the author though. Lastly the book has a few pages of pictures, most of which are very good and add to the book overall.
On Easter Day, 1967, American businessman and founder of the modern Thai silk industry James H.W. Thompson disappeared while supposedly on a stroll in the jungle-clad Cameron Highlands, central Malaysia.The circumstances were unusual, and led to a massive search and investigation. Neither Jim Thompson nor his remains have ever been found...