Sunday, 15 September 2013
The Thai Diamond series of books by Robert Bell tells the story of a group of Thai bar boys who hit it big with the help of some Farangs, a bit of luck and a lot of hard work.
Robert has based a lot of events, particularly in Rough Diamonds, closely on things that actually happened to him, or his close friends, since he moved to Thailand.  A lot of the stories ring true as Robert maintained the core of the sequence of events, but maybe changed the final result.  Many of the more surprising happenings, such as Kenmg’s death and funeral, are closely based on real life experiences.  The characters are fictional.  In some cases, a mash up of boys, and Farangs, he met in Thailand.  The same with locations.
The story revolves around Rot and his friends as they start from humble beginnings.  They are helped emotionally, and financially, by a small group of Farangs.  Chance meetings play their part as does a willingness to never say never.  What gets the Farangs on board is the guys desire to improve life for the bar boys.


The story of the Thai Diamonds starts in ROUGH DIAMONDS.  Somrot Weangmakham, Rot, is persuaded by his brother, Rit, to go and work at Diamond Boys when it opens.  Rit has the job of organising shows and Rot agrees on condition that he only does the shows.  He told Rit no go-go dancing in his underwear and no going with customers, unless they were young, hot and female.  Rit told him that going with customers was not compulsory, but that he really needed some help to get the shows started.  Rot wasn’t worried; he just did not want his brother to know about his distant past.  He knew the rough end of the trade, but that was a secret.  Rit could never be allowed to know what had happened in Bangkok.
There is something about the Diamond guys, whether it is fresh faced Run, straight from the village; Cap who had done his round of the bars or Keng who had at nineteen already spent a lifetime in the bars.  A bond would tie them.  They endure all that Pattaya has to throw at them, including death and rape.  They come through it all stronger, harder and more determined.
Cap and Run use every tool at their disposal to save enough money to escape Pattaya and build a new future in Udon.  But their friendship with the other Diamonds continued.  They have moved on, but there is unfinished business.
Two Farangs, Michael Barnard and Geoffrey Shotton befriend the guys and help them along their way.  Geoff supports Cap and Run in their battle to move north, whilst Mike befriends Rit and Rot.  When Rot leaves for the army, Mike and him grow closer as Rot starts to decide on his future path, one that will surprise many.
Keng dies and guides their futures from beyond the grave; their guardian spirit will only rest once they have accepted their fates and built a future, but they have to work out his riddles.
The pivotal event is Rit’s night at the Hilton, and it’s aftermath.  That one night that Rit spends with a young Farang causes him to evaluate things, and force a fight with his brother.  A fight that will lead Rot to make the decision that will set the future for all the Diamonds.


The guys are back and on a mission in DIAMOND FELLOWSHIP.  Keng continues his task of helping his friends find their futures.  As friendships are renewed, the Diamonds set down a path that will see them change the face of Diamond Boys, and Pattaya.
They gain revenge on some of those who crossed, exploited and abused them in their youth.  To get there they have to work undercover for the police to expose a side of Thailand that most of them were once part of, the side the Thailand where some lost their innocence at a young age.  In many ways it was all for Keng, their soul mate, who started young and died at 20.
Not everyone is destined to be a Diamond, some are on a route to self destruction.  In sorting them out they make some unlikely allies, who in time will become Diamonds even though Thailand is not their home country.
Rot finally declares his feelings, ones that he has hidden from everyone but Mike, and together with Run, leads the Diamonds towards the bright future.  Now that Mike has bought Diamonds they have a secure future, but also a debt to repay.
Robert reveals eight faces of the Thai Diamonds in the concluding book of the Thai Diamond trilogy, FACETS OF THAI DIAMONDS.  They put their former lives behind them and take on the best, and worst, that Pattaya has to offer.
We finally discover what happened in Bangkok when Rot went to work there aged sixteen and how he met Oot.  This first facet is a story of innocence lost.
Mike’s family arrives for a Christmas that will lead to life changing events, particularly for Mike’s nephew, Scott, who comes out in a spectacular way back in England, determined that his future lies elsewhere.
But for some of their number, the future is not with Diamonds.  Some guys just seem to self destruct.  And changes are afoot which strengthen, and expand the fellowship.  Keng finally achieves his goal, and his spirit moves on, but not without drastic effects to the fellowship.
They face new challenges, and when Scott, his brother and cousins, spend the summer working in Pattaya on college projects, it seems destined that the Diamonds will have even bigger success.
Decisions are taken and lives change for the young Diamonds, now not just Thai, but Russian and English.  With the help of their elders, who see the potential, they take on the world.
Peter and Ivan reveal how their innocence was taken from them in Russia, and how they came to be living in Thailand with Tim as yet another facet of the story is revealed.
In the four and a half years we have followed them, the Diamonds, whether Thai or Farang have matured and grown in stature.  Whether it was chance, or fate, that brought them together, what they created as a team is an unstoppable phenomenon.  They know what they like.  They know what they want.  They know when action has to be taken.  There are two ‘F’ words that aren’t in their vocabulary.  ‘Fear’ and ‘Failure’.  They built their businesses on a firm and stable footing, and look forward to a future that does not involve revealing their bodies on stage.
The trilogy is concluded, but life continues.  Thanks to Tim and Mike’s family, and with hard work they now control their future.  For some, life becomes more of a routine.  For others there are new challenges.  Not everyone who crosses their path is destined to become a Diamond, but those who do form the ultimate brotherhood.
New faces appear on the scene, and with them new challenges.  Rot, Run and Scott lead the Diamonds, as they work together with one goal, that of improving life in Pattaya and making a success of their business.  Sometimes there is a fear that the former may have an adverse effect on the latter.  But if the former means cleaning up town, then that takes priority.
In FINAL CLOSURE, Paul Swift retires and plans a peaceful life in Thailand.  He soon finds Soi Opal and the bars become a regular hang out.  He wants no pressure, no faces from the past, and no more snow!  Then he recognizes someone.  A face from the past that represents unfinished business; a face that brings his time working in Germany back to the fore; but a face that makes him reconsider retiring to Pattaya.  He enlists the help of Jeng, one of the dancers at Run Coyote that he has befriended, and they start to investigate.
As he digs deeper, he finds his foes from Germany are back up to their old tricks, and some new ones.  It’s time to put a spanner in their works.  It’s time to try and finally finish what was started years ago.  He calls on old friends to help.  In the course of his self imposed mission, he makes new ones amongst the Thai Diamonds as they help to close down the operations, but this time they need assistance from lawyers and the police if they are to succeed.  Colonel Wichai, ‘Chai’ from Bangkok is given the job.  A job considered by many to be too hot to handle.
They face challenges and situations that once again, for some, bring back their early life.  To understand what happens in Pattaya, you need to understand what happened in Germany almost twenty years earlier.  Paul was looking for closure on events in Germany.  Could he finally get to the truth that had eluded them?  And will closure, if obtained, be what he expects?
No one was expecting the explosive happenings that shook things and caused them to evaluate their involvement.  And whilst the fictional Pattaya, and characters that Robert created in his earlier books may be familiar, Final Closure is about retribution and revenge.  It is about Paul’s journey to put demons to rest.  But for the Diamonds it is another clean up job.  In the end they get closure, Thai style.  Not the closure that Paul expected; not the type of closure Paul ever expected to experience.  He’d have preferred justice for his foes to death.


Or did they get closure?  Did they finally get the prove they looked for so long in Germany.  Paul and Frank thought at first that with the death of Matthias, they had closure.  But they realized they were missing someone, the mastermind.  In THE FIFTH MAN they resume their search.  They didn't believe they had everyone, and no one was talking.  There were too many loose ends.  Paul and Frank look for the puppet master, the person who controlled everything, now and twenty years ago.
Meanwhile, Chai has his new job and sets up his new undercover team recruiting Jeng and some of the other guys who had helped.  They find that their first cases are not only linked to each other, but linked back to the Matthias case, and to early Thai Diamond History as Run is forced to relive his rape yet again.  It seems someone wants operations closed, and the police to do the job for them.  But Chai isn’t playing that game.
Diamond Detectives cut their teeth on these new cases, but as it becomes clear that everything is linked, everyone wants the Fifth Man.  The problem is, even though they become certain of who it is, how do they prove it in a court of law?  They didn’t want to go down the Matthias route.  Karen suggests the Bratislava solution.
They play a risky game through to its conclusion, and everything about Germany finally becomes clear.
Life is not over for the Diamonds and Robert is currently working on the sixth book, POLISHED DIAMONDS.  The group face new challenges and witness arrivals and departures.  The core of the group remains and the focus of everyone is on the weddings of the three Barnards, and Peter and Ivan.  But Pattaya is Pattaya, and the life of the Diamonds is never straight forward.
Tim and his friends have to deal with shock news and a death at Barnies is not what it seems.  Sebastiano arrives determined that he can renew his friendship with Paul, and show his family that he can succeed alone.
Despite various road bumps along the way the weddings pass off as planned, well almost.  Diamond Detectives get involved in investigating scams, on Thais and Farangs whilst others see an opportunity to invest.  Peter and Ivan face their new life as married men whilst facing the prospect of a future without Tim.
The older Farangs keep trying to get back into retirement, but there is always something to disturb them.
POLISHED DIAMONDS is scheduled for publication in the fourth quarter of 2013 by Thai Diamond Books and will be available through Amazon, Smashwords and other online retailers of eBooks.

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