The Motion Picture Teller by Colin CotterillThe Motion Picture Teller by Colin Cotterill
Narrator: Amy Scanlon, Steven Crossley
Published by RB Media on January 17, 2023
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fiction
Length: 6 hrs 40 mins
Pages: 233
Format: Audiobook
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An enchanting new standalone novel from CWA Dagger winner Colin Cotterill, set in Bangkok: a mystery without a crime, where the line between fact and fiction blurs, and nothing is as simple as it appears

Thailand, 1996: Supot, a postman with the Royal Thai Mail service, hates his job. The only bright spot in his life is watching classic movies with his best friend, Ali, the owner of a video store. These cinephiles adore the charisma of the old Western stars, particularly the actresses, and bemoan the state of modern Thai cinema—until a mysterious cassette, entitled Bangkok 2010, arrives at Ali’s store.

Bangkok 2010 is a dystopian film set in a near-future Thailand—and Supot and Ali, immediately obsessed, agree it’s the most brilliant Thai movie they’ve ever seen. But nobody else has ever heard of the movie, the director, the actors, or any of the crew. Who would make a movie like this and not release it, and why?

Feeling a powerful calling to solve the mystery of Bangkok 2010, Supot journeys deep into the Thai countryside and discovers that powerful people are dead set on keeping the film buried.

The Motion Picture Teller is an odd book, enjoyable but meandering and soft around the edges. Does that make sense? It’s being marketed as a mystery, but I think that’s a little misleading. Yeah, there’s kind of a mystery, but it’s more about the people and the places.

The book is set in Bangkok in 1996, when you could still go to video rental stores and browse the aisles. Supot, our main character, works for the Thai Royal Mail but isn’t really dedicated to his job. His friend, Ali, owns a video store and the two of them spend hours in the back of the store watching classic Western movies. In a batch of old tapes they find a movie, Bangkok 2010. The two men love the movie, which is set in a slightly dystopian future, and they watch it several times before attempting to discover who made it and why it hasn’t been released to the public. The mystery is that the more Supot looks into it, the more dead ends he finds. The film came from no studio, and the actors, writer, and director are all unknowns. Supot ends up writing to the lead actress and the rest of the story is about his journey to meet her and find out more about Bangkok 2010.

This is a beautifully written book full of unexpected characters and twists on the familiar “guy in search of the perfect woman” theme. It was touching and funny and just a good book.

I listened to the audio. Crossley did a fine job narrating the story. Scenes and dialogue from the movie are sprinkled throughout the book and those portions are read by a different narrator, Amy Scanlon, which helped keep the main story and the story of the movie separate. I do think I missed what made Bangkok 2010 so earthshattering for Ali and Supot though.

About Colin Cotterill

Colin Cotterill was born in London in 1952. He trained as a physical education teacher and set off on a world tour that didn’t ever come to an end. He worked as a Physical Education instructor in Israel, a primary school teacher in Australia, a counselor for educationally handicapped adults in the US, and a university lecturer in Japan. But the greater part of his latter years has been spent in Southeast Asia. Colin has taught and trained teachers in Thailand and on the Burmese border. He spent several years in Laos, initially with UNESCO and wrote and produced a language teaching series for Thai TV.

Ten years ago, Colin became involved in child protection and set up an NGO in Phuket which he ran for the first two years. After two more years of study in child abuse issues, and one more stint in Phuket, he moved on to ECPAT, an international organization combating child prostitution and pornography. He established their training program for caregivers.

All the while, Colin continued with his two other passions; cartooning and writing. It wasn’t until his work with trafficked children that he found himself sufficiently stimulated to put together his first novel, The Night Bastard (Suk’s Editions. 2000). The reaction to that first attempt was so positive that Colin decided to take time off and write full-time.

Colin is married and lives in a fishing community on the Gulf of Siam with his wife, Kyoko, and ever-expanding pack of dogs.

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