Book Review
Novel (Entertainment)
Title The Kingkong Effect
Author Paul Adirex ( Pongpol Adireksarn)
Translated from the original English version by Wipada Kittikowit
Third edition, Bangkok, Prapan Sarn Publishing, 2000, 198 baht


During their search for conch shells in the Andaman Sea between the islands of Lipe and Langawi, Wan and Chit observed the outbreaks of the Crowns-of-Thorns vastly destroying sea corals. They decided to notify the Navy and government agencies. Task forces were consequently sent to stop the outbreak. Major Byron and his wife, Samanjai, volunteer to help. Both of them were in the same team as Pracha and Bunsom under the lead of Captain Suvit. Bunsom was unfortunately stung at his ankle by the cone-shaped snail with its poisonous dart. He went berserk, lost control of himself, died of heart attack when the team was at the table rock.

About four years later, the Thai government deployed heavy drug suppression, especially in the area of the Andaman Sea. This operation cut down the route of drug trafficking from Thailand to USA and Europe. The President Philip Carver of the United States was satisfied with the result and decided to have an official visit to Thailand in three weeks time and to have a personal leisure in Phuket.

Steve, Byron’s brother, and Charlotte, his fianc?e, were on board of the yacht from Singapore. Both of them separated themselves from by taking a small boat to coral diving at the table rock. Steve caught a large mollusk and lifted it up to his neck level. The snail then shot a poisonous dart into his neck making him delirious. Steve killed Charlotte and died of cardiac failure. Kamala, a marine scientist, was interested of the cause of his death so that she asked Dr. Nipat, the director of the Phuket Hospital, to inspect Steve’s body. She was then advised to ask for permission from Byron, Steve’s brother, who lives at the Fishing Lodge in Chalong Bay. Byron was still devastated by his loss. His wife was killed by a stray bullet during the infamous May crisis in 1992. After he was told by Kamala about the venom of the cone shell, a species of mollusk called a Conus Geographus, and the King Kong Effect that makes the victims went berserk and killed people before died of heart failure, Byron agreed to help. After the postmortem, Kamala found a poisonous dart at Steve’s neck. She then asked Byron to take her on his yacht to the table rock in order to search for the cone shells. They found several Conus Geographus and took three of them to the laboratory. Kamala dissected a Conus Geographus, cut the venom bulb and the dart sac, then kept the venom liquid and poisonous darts in the glass jar. Som, a janitor at the Marine Biological Center brought her two rats. Kamala experimented the venom by feeding the rats with a piece of beef soaked with the Conus Geographus’ venom. The rat went berserk and died. Her experiment was recorded using videotape.

Som peeked the experiment through the window. He then knew where Kamala hid the venom. When Som wanted to revenge Malee, his girlfriend who jilted him and wished to marry the other man named Sak, he stole some amount of the venom from Kamala’s locker and refilled the jar with water. Som arranged the meeting with Malee and Sak in a restaurant near Malee’s workplace in Bangkok. He arrived first, ordered a few dishes of foods. Som poured the venom into those foods. When Malee and Sak arrived, they ate those foods. Somsak went berserk, killed Malee, and then dies of cardiac failure. Som escaped from the restaurant and returned to Phuket. Kamala told the killing incident to Byron and he investigated until he knew that Som was responsible for this incident but there was no evidence.

Surachai, a Thia drug dealer, was in discussion with Santini, an American drug dealer. As the drug trafficking was interrupted, there was shortage of drug supply, causing huge amount of income losses. Santini planned to assassinate the President Phillip Carver and he asked Supote, Surachai’s brother, to recruit a team of high quality gunmen.

Alex Chen, a collector of rare cowries, desperately wished to have a shell of the Conus Geographus. He went to Serm whom told him about Kem was fired by Byron, as Kem revealed Byron and Kamala’s secret finding of the Conus Geographus. Chen went to ask Kamala but she refused to discuss about it.

The Thai government appointed Niti, the chief of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB), to trace Surachai and Santini. Niti sent two NSB officers, Samart and Rattana, to carry out the task. The US government also sent two DEA agents, Weston and Watanabe, to help Thai officers. After it was found that Santini came to meet Surachai in Bangkok and was on the way to Phuket, they asked Rattana and Samart to follow. Surachai informed Santini about the US President’s plan during his stay in the Sheraton Grande Laguna. He also told Santini about Bunma, a hotel staff who would cooperate their plans.

Santini went to see Kamala at the Marine Biological Center in order to obtain more information about the venom of the Conus Geographus. Surachai sent Charn and Som to find the Conus Geographus, hidden by Kamala, but they failed. Santini then ordered Supote to abduct Kamala and Byron. Santini forced Byron to sail his yacht to the table rock in order to get the Conus Geographus. When Chen knew about this, he followed. Rattana and Samart also asked for approval to plane searching from the air. Chen met Santini and they negotiated. Chen wanted to take the shells while Santini wanted the venom. Kamala and Byron took one dive and brought Santini a Conus Geographus. Seng, one of the crew, was stung by the Conus Geographus’ poisonous dart and was affected by the King Kong Effect and consequently died. During the night, Kamala and Byron manage to escape from the yacht. After one of Chen;s diver found another Conus Geographus, Chen gave the venom to Santini and he took the shells.

Kamala and Byron came to meet Watanabe, Rattana, and Samart and told them about Santini’s plan to assassinate the US President by using the poison. Kamala and Byron were abducted by Nucha and his gunmen trying to murder them. However, both of them survived. When they were ambushed by Chum and his gunmen, they were resuced again by Rattana and Samart. Rattana arrested Chum, the gunmen leader, and took him for cross-examination. When Santini knew about this, he decided to do assassination by himself and Bunma. He also asked Surachai and Supote to check out from the hotel in order to distract the Thai officials. Kamala and Byron took an excursion to Pan-yi island. When Rattana informed them that Chum refused to speak out about the assassination plan, Byron and Rattana offered a help then they rushed back to Phuket. They use a Conus Geographus to threaten and force Chum to confess. Having previously seen the dreadful effect of the Conus Geographus, Chum quickly revealed Santini’s plan. Rattan immediately reported to Watanabe and planned to stop the assassination. Byron and Kamala were willing to help. As Byron was suspicious of Bunma, he requested an examination on the workers’ personal file. Pim, a hotel staff, took him to see Chef Schmitt.

Santini disguised himself as Chef Schmitt to sneak in the hotel with Bunma. He told Bunma to put the venom into the salad dressing before it would be served to the President and the First Lady. Brady and Royson, Secret Service agents, took a security check. After Brady tasted the food, he was affected by the King Kong Effect and killed Royson. Royson, another security guard, try to stop Brady but he was shot to death. Brady was about to shot the President but he was shot to death by Tate, another guard who was Brady’s friend. Santini then took the gun and aimed at the President but he missed the target as Byron saved the First Couple by lunging them onto the floor and covering up their bodies. Rattana shot Santini six times to dead.

After the dreadful incident, Byron drove back to the hotel in the afternoon and took the Conus Geographus in order to release them back at the table rock. Kamala was leaving notes for her friends while Byron was walking to the newspaper shop, leaving his car engine running. At the same time, Supote and Surachai were planning to get away from Phuket. When they saw Byron’s car parking with the running engine, they got in and swiftly drove away. On their way to Sarasin bridge, Surachai saw a pinic box on the backseat. He thought there was some kind of food inside the box so that he pushed his hand into the box. He was then stung by the Conus Geographus’ poisonous darts. Soon after, because of the King Kong Effect, he went berserk and grabbed Supote’s neck. The swerving car was out of control and plunged over the Sarasin bridge into the channel killing them both.

Having save lives of the US President and the First Lady, Kamala and Byron received an honor to join the private dinning table with the First Couple. Besides, the US President granted a funding to establish the Research Center on Dangerous Marine Animals in Thailand and appointed Kamala as the director. Byron and Kamala eventually got married and lived together happily ever after.

Reviews a novel titled "The King Kong effect"

The King Kong Effect was written in English by Pongpol Adireksarn (Paul Adirex). It was translated to Thai by Wipada Kittikowit. This novel is an investigation story, which was exciting and attracting. This novel has been in its 3 rd publication. The first publication was in 1998 and the second publication was in 1999. This proves that this novel impressed the readers since it was sold out in a very short time.

Regarding the language and style, this writing is easy to read, both in the original version of English and Thai version by Wipada Kittikowit, which was considered as a well-absorbed language and style. The Thai version is nicely communicated with least confusion of language structure. The readers can easily follow the story since the novel is nicely written in Thai literary.

Regarding the scenes, most of the story was in the scenes of Phuket and the Andaman Sea in the areas of Lipe and Butang islands, which the author has his extensive expertise on Phuket and the Andaman geographies. This was confirmed though scenes in his other novel, the Pirates of Tarutao. As such, the incidental scenes in the story including the table rock, the Sheraton Grande Laguna, and other places conform well to the story plot.

The story was divided into 26 chapters. Each chapter was design to create knots and events. The ending of the chapter was both the knot solution and knot creation, which allows the story to be attracting and well connected throughout.

Regarding the rationale, the plot of the official visit of the US President to Thailand due to the matter of drug trafficking and personal vacation in Phuket with his wife, as well as the drug dealers’ assassination plan, seem to have weak reasons. Especially, the recruit of the team of assassins and their massacre by the Thai authorities was rather weak and unrealistic. However, that was the reason for Surachai to begin thinking of the poison use, which Santini accepted the idea and began to search for the venom of the Conus Geographus. This is considered the main spine of the story, the Conus Geographus’ dreadful venom, which kills some actors including the security guards who tasted the food. The incident was linked to the close assassination attempt that almost successfully killed the US President. This ending is exciting and impresses the readers, making the other weak points well covered.

Prominent characters in the story posses appropriate roles although some of them were in the plot and then disappeared such as, for example, Chen who was the shell collector and trader. However, this character left the scene at the time that was negligible.

The leading characters such as Kamala and Byron were well created by the author because they have suitable background to keep the cone shell’s venom. They both were smoothly blended with all incidents and characters in exciting manners. Importantly, this novel has a happy ending, which is preferred by Thai readers. Therefore, "The King Kong Effect" is considered one of the most attractive novels.

Kru Tao

Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
20 Jul 2006