Christiansen, Svend. (2007). Kirsten Rising: A Tale of Vengeance in Hong Kong’s Red-Light District. Lincoln, New England, USA: iUniverse.


Kirsten Rising is a badly written book about sexual excess and a woman’s revenge on her sexually profligate husband set in Thailand and Hong Kong. A seemingly never-ending series of raunchy descriptions of Kirsten and Karl Haugaard’s complicated sexual life, and their numerous encounters with bar girls from the beaches of Phuket to the nightclubs of Wanchai fill the pages. The main story is framed by a prologue and an afterword where the author, Christiansen, himself appears as a character. Kirsten gives Christiansen, a journalist in the novel, notebooks containing descriptions of her sessions with a psychotherapist where her account of the events leading to her husband’s death is told. The sexual experimentation originally suggested by Kirsten to spice up their relationship begins to unravel when Karl develops a greater interest in the various south-east-Asian women they pick up from bars—especially the enigmatic Ailada. After their initial sexual encounters in Thailand,  Karl, an investment banker by profession, leaves Kirsten and her two children (from a previous affair) in San Francisco and moves  to Hong Kong to live with Ailada. Discovering that her husband plans to cheat her on the divorce settlement, Kristen pursues Karl and discovers that he has ditched Ailada for a Wanchai bar girl called Tika.

Ailada and Kirsten team up to revenge on Karl; they discover that he has raped a girl in Thailand and plan to use this information to blackmail him. But this plan fails when the girl refuses to testify. However, they uncover information about Karl’s extensive undeclared personal investment accounts held in the name of his company. Kristen and Ailada plan to entrap him in a complicated plot by sending a blackmail letter about the rape to his employers while drugging Karl and making him pass out in his bedroom which would incapacitate him for a few days. The two women imagine that his employers would fire Karl to avoid the potential scandal, thus releasing the money held in the company accounts. However Ailada, unknown to Kristen, had all along planned Karl’s murder. The combination of the date-rape drug Ailada asks Kirsten to put into  Karl’s drink along with the carbon-monoxide released from a pot of burning charcoal they place in the room kill him.

In the afterword, the psycho-therapy session notebooks held in confidence by Christiansen are discovered by the police, and Kirsten is convicted of manslaughter while Ailada, whom we discover is not a mere prostitute but also a pimp, disappears escaping conviction and punishment. The story concludes with Christiansen, the author/journalist figure in the story, visiting the now-released Kristen in San Francisco with the possibility of a romantic relationship between them. The presence of the authorial figure in the story and the framing narrative appear to serve no thematic purpose other than to give a sense of reportage. (HR)


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