Author Ron McMillan is a Scottish born and bred lad, who has spent many years in Asia as a photo journalist, and that "eye" shows in BANGKOK BELLE and the earlier book BANGKOK COWBOY. It's not going to be absolutely essential for you to read both books in order, but as is always the way with strong character based novels, it does work really well if you've been fortunate to get them in order.
There is something visual about both the settings and the characters employed in these novels, as well as a deep understanding of the nuances of Thai Culture. When it comes to a PI pairing, everything about Mason and Dixie feels real. Mason, ex British Army, the strong man of the duo, silent and ever so slightly lethal. Dixie on the other hand is anything but silent, she's loud, proud and as real as you can get. She's the guide to the cultural ramifications and requirements, and the instigator of much action. She's also no slouch in the martial arts department herself, and don't for a moment think that this is somehow an uneven partnership or one of protector and protected. These two are equal partners in every possible way.
One of the great joys of reading these novels has been the feeling of authenticity of each and every character, every scenario and every location. Whether it's that eye that is seeing things in depth, or whether it's a very good understanding of the workings of Thai culture from experience, whatever it is feeding the narrative, McMillan is able to get it down on paper in a way that's engaging and informative, paced and clever, with lashings of humour into the bargain.
There's also nothing straight forward about any of these plots and BANGKOK BELLE manages to combine a missing colleague who was investigating another disappearance, police corruption and transgender Beauty Pageant shenanigans; with a crazy night club owner, a psychotic ex-IRA hit man, and an aging American mobster working for the Macau mafia.
Not your normal plot elements then, nor are Mason & Dixie exactly your normal PI duo. What you can expect is clever writing and plotting, great characters, pitch perfect dialogue, some stand out scene setting, laughter, action, pathos, friendship, a bit of romance and a heap of enjoyable madness.