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Calvino novels

Zero Hour in Phnom Penh
Third in the series

Zero Hour in Phnom Penh
2004 German Critics Award for Crime Fiction and
Winner of 2007 Premier Special Director Book Award Semana Negra, Spain

ISBN 978-974-10-3046-0
Paperback 5" - 7 3/4"
2008, 313 pages

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In the early 1990s, at the end of the devastating civil war UN peacekeeping forces try to keep the lid on the violence. Gunfire can still be heard nightly in Phnom Penh, where Vietnamese prostitutes try to hook UN peacekeepers from the balcony of the Lido Bar.

Calvino traces leads on a missing farang from Bangkok to war-torn Cambodia, through the Russian market, hospitals, nightclubs, news briefings, and UNTAC Headquarters. Calvino’s buddy, Colonel Pratt, knows something that Calvino does not: the missing man is connected with the jewels stolen from the Saudi royal family. Calvino quickly finds out that he is not the only one looking for the missing farang.

 

Praise

Moore set the parameters of the Asian noir world, one where law is meaningless and power lies with the rich and ruthless.
—Khmer440

The perfect hardboiled mystery. Vivid and scary. High stakes story for Calvino who faces betrayal from every side. The setting is provocative: the Cambodians have experienced so much death and destruction and live with so much corruption and so little safety that you wonder how much catching one murderer can really mater. This is one of my favorite noir aka hardboiled mysteries because it is written with a high level of artistry.
Cliffhangers Favorite Noir a.k.a. Harboiled Mysteries

A layered novel which transports the reader to the time when this beautifully complex country [Cambodia] is attempting to put the pieces of their broken past back together, while the pieces continue on a perpetual crumble.... A highly entertaining read that will stay in the forefront of your mind long after the book is closed, finished and has found its place back on the bookshelf.
Will Bowie's list of the 21 Greatest Books to inspire travel

Moore does a great job in Zero Hour of depicting two places I hope to never be – a seedy lakeside brothel, which doubles as a murder scene and the inside of a real life Cambodian prison, where life is not just cheap, to some it’s worthless. Moore seeks out societies at crossroads and he finds one in Cambodia, but in the process he tells the reader a ripper of a yarn with the added bonus of making us realize how unlucky some people are or conversely how lucky we are.
Kevin Cummings, Thailand Footprint: People, Things, Literature

A distinctly noir sensibility... There's no holds barred in the way that Phnom Penh is described, the way that the lawless society operates and the stark and very in-your-face descriptions of the differences between the UN peacekeepers and locals... There are glimpses of kindness, of care and of generosity, [and] touches of humour... I was completely and absolutely hooked.
Austcrime

An excellent hardboiled whodunnit, a noir novel with a solitary, disillusioned but tempting detective in an interesting social, historical context (of post-Pol Pot Cambodia), and a very thorough psychological study of the characters.
La culture se partage

Moore is an idealist and a lone warrior who doesn't hesitate to get his hands dirty.... Those who have travelled to Southeast Asia will be captivated by his ability to recreate the atmosphere.
—Le Parisien

Much more than a thriller, Zero hours in Phnom Penh is a fresco of Cambodia and its people, their despair, their hopes, their fears, their lives. And that’s what makes this book a single work, much deeper than what can be expected to begin reading.
Unwalkers

The story is fast-paced and entertaining. Even outside of his Bangkok comfort zone, Moore shows he is one of the best chroniclers of the expat diaspora.
—The Daily Yomiuri

Zero Hour in Phnom Penh is political, courageous and perhaps [Moore’s] most important work. Moore is a brilliant storyteller and a masterful character inventor.
—CrimiCouch.de

Zero Hour in Phnom Penh is a brilliant detective story that portrays—with no illusion—Cambodia’s adventurous transition from genocide and civil war to a free-market economy and democratic normality. Zero Hour in Phnom Penh is a rare stroke of luck and a work of art, from which one can always draw more stories and levels of meaning. . . . an all too human, timeless, historical and philosophical novel.
—Deutsche Well Buchtipp, Bonn

A thriller in which the importance of the single crime shrinks visibly at the sight of mass murder and grand corruption.
—Thomas Klingenmaier, Stuttgarter Zeitung

It was ten years ago in Cambodia, but this great novel sits well after Kandahar, Luanda, Kabul, Baghdad and other places where the brutality of war destroys the souls of humanity.
—KulturNews, Hamburg

[In Zero Hour in Phnom Penh] one experiences an impressive novel and discovers lives in a country—keyword ‘Pol Pot—that has a long history of genocide behind it. A novel of sad intelligence and intelligent sadness”
—Thomas Widmer, Facts Zürich

Moore is an accurate storyteller and a sensitive observer. He bares the colonial attitude of the foreigners and soberly describes the survival strategies of the young women—imparting a great amount of information and a valuable insight.
—Marianne de Mestral, P.S. Magazin, Zürich

The novel is more than a crime fiction. It is a believable attempt to describe a society at the crossroad. Moore’s portrayal of the omnipresent prostitution in Cambodia goes under the skin. Nothing is glossed over.
—Christian Ruf, Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten

Zero Hour in Phnom Penh is a bursting, high adventure . . . extremely gripping . . . a morality portrait with no illusion.
—Ulrich Noller, Westdeutscher Rundfunk

A well written, exciting, but not simplistic thriller. The description of Cambodia at the end of the Pol Pot terror regime (approximately 1993) is convincing. High tension amidst violent backdrop. Recommended.
—Ute Ulrike Fauth, EKZ Buchbesprechungen Reutlingen

Moore’s crime fiction is a multi-layered and disillusioning picture of the Cambodian society and the UNTAC soldiers: the reality behind the headlines.
—Inge Wünnenberg, General-Anzeiger, Bonn

Like other Calvino novels, Zero Hour in Phnom Penh captures the tropical sultriness that often sucks away the breaths of West Germans in Southeast Asia. Heat, noise and stench almost emanate from the book.. Moore heats up the climate even further with his portrayals of raw power, cheap sex, wretchedness from drugs and human contempt. It can be stomach-turning for the delicate of the hearts.
—Sönke Boldt, Badische Neueste Nachrichten Karlsruhe

Moore writes to entertain, and that he does.
—Bangkok Post

 
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