Photographer Alec Brodie is in hiding from his many creditors in London when he receives an offer that seems too good to be true: go to Korea (where he had previously lived for some years) to work on the corporate brochure for the K-N group, a large company, for oodles of money. Using most of his advance to stave off the worst of the looming financial disaster, Brodie nevertheless flies business class to Seoul and has plenty to drink on the plane. On arrival, he’s met and taken to a 5-star hotel, but has to give his own maxed-out credit card as security. Over the next few days, Brodie avails himself generously of luxurious food, drink, brand names and consumer lifestyle, most revoltingly when on his first night he is taken out to dinner to a Japanese restaurant and is fawned on by a hostess who later comes to his hotel room and….yes, you have guessed it.
Brodie learns that K-N is interested in expanding into North Korea, which would be a first for a South Korean business and revive its allegedly flagging fortunes. He is not prepared for the shock of his first assignment, though, which involves photographing a factory and its workers in a fake North Korea as part of an attempt by K-N to attract financial investment. Soon, Brodie is plunged into dangerous territory as someone he knows is killed, and he has been set up as the obvious suspect for the crime. Can he keep one step ahead, and who can he trust from the assortment of hangers on, diplomats, old friends and enemies he’s met during the course of the novel? Will we find out why Brodie was beaten up by the Korean police 15 years previously?
Yin Yang Tattoo is an exciting read, replete with many somewhat over-written details about the (popular) culture and environment of Korea, not a country that features in crime fiction so far as I am aware, which are interesting even if they don’t make one exactly desperate to visit that country! The financial part of the plot is certainly topical and apt. Unfortunately for me, though, I found Brodie an odious person with a repellent attitude to women (he is particularly sexist in his terminology about and behaviour to Korean women, including an old girlfriend). As I could hardly bear to read about him (he’s the narrator so the reader is privy to his thoughts and attitudes) I took refuge in hoping that he’d get his comeuppance, but suspected that he would not as he is presented as a “flawed hero” rather than the offensive character I found him to be.
I was sent this book by the author.
Article about the Korean location, including the author’s graphic video trailer, at Crime Fiction Lover.