Book Review: 'The Glass Kingdom' by Lawrence Osborne

The Fiction Addiction

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The Glass Kingdom(TheFictionAddiction.com)

The Glass Kingdom, by Lawrence Osborne, is a vivid, atmospheric story about the darkest sides of expat life. Most of the story takes place in the upscale apartment towers in Thailand.

Sarah has run a successful scam, and escaped with a bag of tainted cash. I loved how the scam fell into place. But after cleverly preying on greed and being seen as the help in order to get all this cash, she seemed to have no further plans. So I spent this whole book mentally screaming at her to chill, to tell quieter lies, to live a bit more modestly with a simpler cover story. Look, it's not that I'd embezzle loads of money, just that if I did, I'd sit quietly for like 6 months without spending anything, then publicly waffle about whether I should take this great job offer in Cleveland, ask everyone to visit me in my new place in Cleveland, and then take off for a country with no extradition treaty, never to be seen again. LIVING IN AN UPSCALE NEIGHBORHOOD WITH A SHAKY BACKSTORY AND NO VISIBLE INCOME IS A BIT OBVIOUS, SARAH. 

Sarah soon meets the other young women living in the Kingdom apartment complex, including other ex-pats with their own reasons for running. There is a bit of insta-bonding over intense drinking, which felt pretty realistic to me. There are a lot of secrets in the Kingdom towers, and I was completely caught up in uncovering the darker side, even if it was tinged with a lot of SARAH NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!? DON'T DO THAT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

There is growing unrest outside the gated complex, and without revealing the storyline, there are clear reminders than the residents of the Kingdom are just visitors, and the city doesn't belong to them. I like the connections to Sarah's story -- she was able to take full advantage of being seen as just a worker in order to make her way to the Kingdom with a bag of cash, although she obviously had intense goals and her own agenda. Just like the quiet Thai staff  at the Kingdom have their own lives and goals, too.

Readers who liked this one will also enjoy The Suspect, for another suspenseful story about Thai expat life. This one is set among backpackers in hostels, not in a high-class high-rise, but has similar themes of expats escaping from and being followed by their secrets.

I also enjoyed reading The Beach and Reckless Girls for extreme travel and extreme secrets 

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