Christopher G. Moore is a Canadian writer who has lived in Thailand for 25 years. He studied law at Oxford University, taught law at University of British Columbia, and practiced law before becoming a full-time writer.
His first book His Lordship’s Arsenal was published in New York to a critical acclaim in 1985. His has since written over 20 novels, a book on Thai language, and over 200 essays. He has also collaborated with other writers and edited three anthologies of short stories and essays.
Moore is best known for his popular Vincent Calvino Private Eye series which currently includes 13 novels, and his cult classics, Land of Smiles Trilogy, a behind-the-smiles study of his adopted country, Thailand.
In his early career Moore was called “complex, moody, rewarding” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “a real writer and one to watch”?(Publisher’s Weekly). After Moore has moved to Thailand in search of materials in the late 1980s his body of work grew with many novels published that were set largely in Southeast Asia, in particular Thailand. He was among the first, if not the first, who wrote detective novels with the western-style protagonist set in Thailand.
During the 1990s and 2000s Moore alternated between literary and crime fiction. Macleans described his work: “Moore’s noir thriller and literary fiction—like Graham Greene, he alternates between ‘entertainment’ and serious novels—are subtle and compelling evocations of a part of the world rarely seen through our eyes.” Moore himself was described as a writer “in the great literary tradition that hasn’t really touched down since Somerset Maugham” (The Globe and Mail), and “the most important recreator of Thailand for a western audience” (Vancouver Sun).
Moore has enjoyed a strong readership in Asia and Europe before his Vincent Calvino novels were published in the United States and the United Kingdom starting in 2007. He was considered “among the most important authors who [brought] foreign crime fiction into Germany” in the mid-1990s (Krimitips). He is also often praised for his craft. “Moore is a brilliant storyteller and a masterful character inventor” (CrimiCouch.de), “a marvelous and inventive writer who is able to combine literary merit with good old genre fiction” (Georgia Straight).
On his writing style, “Moore is a stylist much like the writers of the early to mid-20th century who kick-started the P.I. genre in America. He writes with the angry and sad voice of Ross Macdonald and the flow of and beauty of Raymond Chandler. Penning his books in the third-person, he uses allegory and symbolism to great effect. The Calvino series is distinctive and wonderful, not to be missed, and I’m pleased to see that it is finally becoming better known in the States” (The Rap Sheet). Moore has also been described as “The Hemingway of Bangkok” (The Globe and Mail), “Dashiell Hammett in Bangkok” (San Francisco Chronicle), and “W. Somerset Maugham with a bit of Elmore Leonard and Mickey Spillane thrown in for good measure”?(The Japan Times).
However, to Douglas Fetherling, a noted Canadian literary critic, “Moore is a genuine novelist who just happens to employ the conventions of the thriller genre, that his real interests are believable human behaviour and way cultures cross-pollinate and sometimes clash. This is real prose, not Raymond Chandler stuff, and his motives are as close to art as they are to entertainment” (Ottawa Citizen).
Moore’s work is often noted for its rich cultural observations and insights and his knowledge of Southeast Asia. “Moore’s work doesn’t flinch from cultural detail or complex social analysis” (International Herald Tribune). “It’s easy to see why Moore’s books are popular: While seasoned with a spicy mixture of humor and realism, they stand out as model studies in East-West encounters, as satisfying for their cultural insights as they are for their hardboiled action”?(The Japan Times).
Le Parisien called him “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,” and Thriller Magazine (Italy) considered him “a rare writer who is able to meticulously dramatize the complex wiring of the human condition and simultaneously reveal the geopolitical undercurrents while maintaining a skillful control of his stories. Moore is a true connoisseur of Southeast Asia, a man of experience beyond the narrow bounds of culture.”
Peter Stark wrote in the Quarterly Review: “If there’s a new book by Christopher G. Moore, the Bangkok-based Canadian author, I’ll read that, particularly if it’s a Calvino private eye one. His novels, set among louche expatriates in a semi-criminal nocturnal demi-monde, managed to put Bangkok into a context for me when I was spending time in S.E. Asia. He leads you into hidden establishments and constructs, some palatial, some mean hovels in hidden side-streets, to which only a cat could find its way and that by accident.”?
After years of writing out of Southeast Asia, Moore started to gain wider recognition in the early 2000s. The third novel in his Vincent Calvino series Zero Hour in Phnom Penh (originally published under the title Cut Out) won the prestigious German Critics Award for International Crime Fiction (Deutscher Krimi Preis) in 2004 and the Spanish Premier Special Book Award Sema Negra in 2007. The second novel in the same series Asia Hand won the Shamus Award for Best Original Paperback in 2011. His novella “Reunion” (published as part of the anthology Phnom Penh Noir) was a finalist for the 2013 Arthur Ellis Award in the category of Best Novella.
Moore’s novels have been translated into 14 languages and his Vincent Calvino series has been optioned for film production by FilmNation. His latest novel is Crackdown, 15th in the Vincent Calvino series. His fiction and essays have appeared in Evergreen Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Arena, CULturMAG, The Phnom Penh Post, and Mala Literary Journal.
Read more on what critics say about the author.
For an insider's view of my world, a good place to start is Tito Haggardt's 2013 documentary: The Big Weird World of Christopher G. Moore.