The Man Under The Hat – His New Book: “The Hungry Ghosts”

The Man Under The Hat – His New Book: “The Hungry Ghosts”

Writing means so much to me. The process of stringing words together to build characters and plots is fascinating. An internal bell goes off when I fancy that I’ve nailed a line, a paragraph, a chapter, that says exactly what I want it to say. While I’m not in the elite family of authors who pump out their ‘best sellers’ I consider myself a pretty good author of books…they are generally not so convoluted as to make them heavy reading, and I’m told they are enjoyable. The writing process helps me in ways a psychiatrist likely could not. My characters tell me much about myself  So, I write my books, some inspired by true events, some from my imagination.

When I chance upon an author who ‘rings my bell’ with lucid and melodious prose, with some fusion of grit and scholarly detours, I am humbled and appreciative of her/his talents. One such author is John David Dolan, better known at twitter as @JohnDolanAuthor. When I read the first book of his 7-book ‘Time, Blood, and Karma Series’, “Everyone Burns” (, I was hooked. John and I began a twitter/facebook friendship and have now corresponded for some time. He is the man ‘under the hat’ and he can ad lib and tease with the best of us…you can see that in his writing. This I can assure you, John Dolan is a masterful wordsmith and will not disappoint.

John is British and lives in Thailand on the little island which he writes about in “Everyone Burns” and “The Hungry Ghosts.” Yes, he is rather ‘proper’ but he also knows how to play in the tough and tumble literary sandbox.

It was my extreme pleasure to recently read JD’s book two of the ‘Time, Blood, and Karma Series’, “The Hungry Ghosts” ( I wrote an amazon review about “Everyone Burns” and this is tantamount to a review of “The Hungry Ghosts.”

John Dolan brings you up close and personal with his characters, and though you might have some possible trouble with their Thai names you will thoroughly bond with them. John’s lucid and melodious writing style has a rather hypnotic effect on this reader and I suspect on many others. He weaves a tale of intrigue, mayhem, murder, and his protagonist, David Braddock, is the quintessential anti-hero: Braddock is caustic, embittered, subtly enslaved by his own self-guilt, and he seeks absolution in his loves and lusts, tiptoeing dangerously on a Karmic tightrope as the ‘ripples from the tossed stone’ connect, interconnect, and become the essence of life. You can expect to find some semblance of an ending with “The Hungry Ghosts” but there is a surprise or two and another beginning. It is a story written with style and substance, crafted brilliantly by this man under the hat. I found myself at times wondering just how much of John Dolan was in the naughty David Braddock. There have to be some genetic identifiers, for sure! Certainly, I found it easy to identify with David Braddock and feel most men will also find something of themselves within this ‘everyman.’ The ladies will also identify with the ruggedly handsome Braddock because of his capacity to doubt himself, the dark secrets he carries within himself, that ‘little boy lost’ component, and his commitment to finishing the task in front of him, and his sometime wavering loyalty.

I can think of no better way to salute a master wordsmith like my friend, John Dolan, than to give you some short random samples of his writing in “The Hungry Ghosts.”

From Chapter 28 – ‘David Braddock’s Journal’

Sometimes we falter. 

The streets of Bangkok move steadily past the car window. All that dusty, gaudy, dreadful magnificence persists regardless. It imprints itself on the observer; making him part of the observed; making him complicit. In my present reflective mood the City whispers to me of daily struggles, of invisible karmic arcs, of older mysteries. It reveals to me an incessant shambling line of humanity clinging to the remnants of fading dreams. Sadness oozes from its very walls. It is a montage that reeks of futility and death; that speaks of a landscape populated by blind ghosts feeling their way along once-familiar thoroughfares. The dead are always with us. And sometimes we falter.

From Chapter 31 – ‘David Braddock’s Journal’

Perhaps, while the dead are always around us, they are not always with us. Perhaps they only appear when we need them or they need us; and in the meantime they wander the earth in the same state of confusion as the living, in search of something that remains forever elusive.


Interconnection … 

I recall the Old Monk’s Zen lessons – how nothing exists in isolation – and I view my own situation now through that lens. My father’s past, Nang, the Lamphongchat family, my presence in Thailand, the ‘burning murders’, the Chaldrakuns, the employment of Jingjai, and, last of all, me … The Web of Indra forever expands, enveloping us all, penetrating and triggering so many emotions and intentions; in turn creating ever more complex actions and reactions. Like trapped flies we cannot move far yet our vibrations resonate in others as their movements resonate in us.

Blood begets blood. 

The unseen forces of karma connect and cross-connect to each other and to every sentient thing. The vehicle of time propels us forward remorselessly. There is no returning, and yet everything returns. 

Oh, Claire, how I miss you. 

Come back. 

Save me.

Just one more excerpt: From Chapter 35

For the rest of us, we tread the path of Daedalus. We create labyrinths in which to hide away our monsters or else we fashion wings that will carry us too close to the sun. We are the artisans of avoidance, the fabricators of falsehoods. We sell ourselves snake-oil and we call it medicine. As Teresa of Avila observed, not only do we not understand ourselves but each day we move a little further away from that which we really need. The spirits of the dead are all around us, but it is we, the living, that are the true hungry ghosts.

(End of excerpts)

Hopefully, the reader will pardon me for picking some of my favorite excerpts.

First and foremost, “The Hungry Ghosts’ is immensely entertaining, chapter after chapter. There are great characters. There is mayhem, murder, and there is love. The dialogue is crisp and lively, at times inducing chuckles – other times, germane, serious, and in the moment. The plot lines will resonate. In short, “The Hungry Ghosts” is a 5-Star read, and the movie reel will be turning in the minds of readers. You do not want to miss this exciting read!

I’ll end with more about John Dolan and his links…JUST REMEMBER:

David Braddock returns in A POISON TREE The third book in the Time, Blood and Karma series – There are to be seven books in the series. Watch for it.

ABOUT JOHN DOLAN, THE AUTHOR: “Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.” John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between the UK and Thailand.

You can follow John’s ramblings on Twitter @JohnDolanAuthor or see his website or see his blog (‘ Galericulate’ – or see his Author Page on Amazon or Goodreads or Smashwords.

The ‘buy links’ for “The Hungry Ghosts”: (Amazon US) and (Amazon UK)

One final piece of business: 

You can find Billy Ray Chitwood at twitter @brchitwood and at:


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