Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find his fortune in Hong Kong, but instead found himself homeless and hooked on crystal meth. Soon he began working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest crime family, as a doorman in one of their nightclubs in the Wan Chai red-light district.
Dealing with psychosis, conspiracy and the ‘foreign triad’ – a secretive expat clique which, unbeknown to the world, works hand-in-hand with the Chinese mafia – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug.
“He got introduced to meth by a work colleague and smoked it for the first time one afternoon in his office. After that there was no turning back. “I was the guy that would try anything and I’d have a great time, but I got addicted to it. It was the greatest high I’d ever had,” he said. “I knew that day in the office that the first thing I was going to do after I finished work was to go to Chungking Mansions and get more.” Initially there were no negative effects. Thrall would buy a tenth of a gram and smoke that in a night. He’d go to work the next day still a bit high, but able to do his job with the help of some cigarettes and coffee. Gradually it crept up on him and he started taking the drug every day. Soon he fell out with his business partner, Vance Lee, and their company collapsed. After that he struggled to hold down a succession of jobs. Paranoia and delusions were soon part of his daily existence.“ – South China Morning Post
“Book of the year” – Time Out Hong Kong
“Author Chris Thrall has led an interesting life in Hong Kong and he chronicles his adventures in Eating Smoke, which is about his life with the triads.” – listen online to the interview on RTHK Radio 3
“Thrall captures the energy and possibilities of Hong Kong even as he exposes its seedy, dangerous side. As a narrator, Thrall is likable and honest. He makes friends with everyone, whether or not they happen to speak English. He makes an effort to learn Cantonese and understand the culture, something that a surprising number of expats don’t do. He meets a motley collection of expats and locals in Hong Kong, and he shows their characters through lively anecdotes and observations.” – A Kindle in Hong Kong
“This city can be dizzyingly fast-paced and hard to grasp even when one is straight and sober. Try living and working here on a daily diet of crystal methamphetamine. That’s what former Royal Marines commando Chris Thrall did – and he lived (barely) to tell the tale in this memoir of his harrowing, 13-month Hong Kong sojourn. … Thrall’s disoriented narrative has found a substantial audience in the city; for weeks, it has been riding alongside such books as Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother on Hong Kong’s best-seller list.” – Asia Times
“A triad-controlled nightclub, of course, is not a clever place to work if you’re addicted to a drug with a tendency to induce horrifying paranoia. A lot of bad stuff is going to happen and it’s very easy for an Ice-addled mind to imagine that even worse stuff is also going on. This is at the heart of Thrall’s nightmare and it’s a narrative device that makes Eating Smoke work so well.” – South China Morning Post
“To hell and back: An expat’s life on the edge in Hong Kong” – CNNGo
“This book works on so many levels. For starters, memoirs can only be successful if the central character is likable. And this is certainly the case for Chris Thrall.” – Susan Blumberg-Kason
“Most visitors to Hong Kong, and even many residents, never have experienced the city’s sinister core more closely than they will in Eating Smoke. Thank goodness!” – Cairns Media Magazine
“Chris Thrall – Marine, Addict & Triad” – Necescity
A wonderful interview with Chris Thrall by Collette Scott
Watch the book trailer for Eating Smoke on YouTube!
“Dwelling in the criminal underworld drove Chris Thrall to drugs; he became addicted to crystal methamphetamine, and suffered from clinical psychosis. Now, 15 years on, he is ready to tell his story.” – Time Out