Thursday, January 19, 2017

"What You Don't Know" by Elka Ray

What You Don't Know:
Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia
by Elka Ray

What You Don't Know by Elka Ray is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

An American lawyer dreams of killing his trophy wife in Thailand. A Vietnamese soldier goes mad in a haunted forest. A bereaved mother's trip to Cambodia ends in tragedy - or does it?
Take a spine-tingling journey from the jungles of Sumatra through Bangkok's seedy bars to the seemingly sedate streets of Singapore. Your traveling companions are a slew of dark emotions - fear, grief, jealousy, greed, lust and revenge. And your destination? What you don't know can hurt you.
With flashes of black humor and hard-to-forget characters, these ten stories shine light into the dark corners of Southeast Asia.

Excerpt from "The Yellow River"
It’s the quality of light that I notice first, for I have broken free of the foliage and reached the river. Although it's dark, it is slightly less dark than it was under the tree canopy. I turn and see the darker shadow of our boat. The baby’s cries seem to have ceased. Relief floods over me.
I wade through the shallows, stumbling with fatigue. The rocks are loose and slippery.
The boat is as it was when I left, still listing to one side, a rope tying it to a thick branch. I stagger towards it. I am about ten feet from the boat when I trip, my foot striking something hard yet yielding. In my panic, I fall forward, my hand touching something smooth and slippery.
It takes a moment to register, and even when I realize what it is, my mind rejects it. That cannot be Chau’s head bobbing with the current. It cannot be his hair brushing against my arms, or his bulging eyes staring up at me.
My voice seems to have left me.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I devoured this book! Elka Ray draws the reader in from the first sentence, using her beautifully succinct style to weave thought-provoking tales full of mystery and intrigue. Having lived in Southeast Asia as an expat, I found the characters unique and relatable. She manages to be entertaining, funny AND dark, the perfect combination for a highly entertaining read. I can't wait for more!" ~ dorothy
"I just finished this collection of imaginative, well-executed stories, which were on the whole entertaining and full of surprises. The author clearly knows Southeast Asia very well and captures perfectly the spirit and atmosphere of all her stories’ settings. What will stick with me the most, however, is the author’s voice, which is compelling and distinctive throughout. Highly recommended!" ~ Hong Xiem
"What an enjoyable read! Her stories and characters are well developed, which is surprising given how short they are. Each has a twist that surprised me and left me exclaiming 'no way!'. Well done Ms Ray, when can we expect more?" ~ Cory
"Southeast Asia can be a creepy place. [...] Ray’s prose is certainly well-polished, and she’s perfectly captured the small details of life here. The stories aren’t too long; just snapshots, or postcards, some of which have a nasty edge that can cut. This is excellent work by a promising author, and I look forward to more satisfying reads from her in the future." ~ heybuddy
"I really enjoyed these short stories, which are all surprising and fast-paced with plenty of unexpected twists. Set all over Southeast Asia, the stories follow a mix of locals, travelers and expats in dangerous or dodgy situations. These aren’t typical detective stories but psychological suspense - the writer does a great job of getting you inside these strange people’s heads and making you understand why they act like they do. [...] I’ve lived and traveled a lot in this region and the stories’ settings and situations seemed authentic. If you know Southeast Asia or plan to go there, you’ll enjoy these creepy and intriguing stories." ~ Amazon Customer

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
What You Don't Know is a collection of ten short stories set in Southeast Asia.
In "Payback" Martin and Candice are on holiday in Thailand, where a lot of tourists seem to be dying. This gives Martin an idea.
In "The Yellow River" a young man patrolling the Yellow River hears a ghost story, but could it be true?
In "Cleaning Up" Hong, a maid for a Western ex-pat in Vietnam, meets up with her ex-husband a few years after their divorce. He presents her with an interesting proposition.
In "Burning Bright" Felicity and Gary are on a holiday in Cambodia when an opportunity presents itself.
In "Hot Flashes" Miriam goes on holiday in Bali to meet her online date Wayan. Things don't turn out quite as she planned.
In "Hit and Run" Dr Scott and his wife are questioned over the disappearance of their son's girlfriend in Singapore.
In "The Secret Admirer" Maddie and Moira visits a fortune teller in Vietnam, with unexpected results.
In "Killing Me Softly" Jimmy McGee is on holiday in Thailand and can't seem to get enough of the ladies. Will he ever learn?
In "What You Don't Know" Meredith in on her annual trip to Indonesia, where her son Andrew disappeared six years ago.
Set in Vietnam, in "Jungle" Nguyet has a disturbing meeting with her boss, leading to the most original murder plan yet.
The stories in this collection revolve around the themes of ghosts, revenge, adultery, and murder, with their exotic Asian settings making them truly unique. The copy I read contained numerous editing errors, especially considering the length of the book. While all of the stories held my attention, some seemed to finish a bit abruptly. Nevertheless, this collection is certainly worth your while, especially if you like suspense, ghost stories, and exotic locations. My favorite story: "The Yellow River".
Warnings: adultery, sexual references, violence.

About the Author
At the age of eleven, Elka Ray co-founded the Double Trouble Detective Agency. She’s been on the lookout for mysteries ever since. Elka’s latest book, What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia, takes readers on a darkly suspenseful tour of the Far East. Her first novel, a fast-paced romantic adventure titled Hanoi Jane, was published by Marshall Cavendish in English and DT Books in Vietnamese. Elka’s next novel, the thriller Saigon Dark, was published by Crimewave Press in November 2016. Elka is also the author and illustrator of a popular series of bilingual kids’ picture books about Vietnam.
Elka divides her time between Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Canada’s scenic Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, drawing or reading she’s in - or near - the ocean.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or B&N gift card.