BLOOD RUBIES by Mailan Doquang, feature
BLOOD RUBIES by Mailan Doquang, feature
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The Big Thrill Discusses BLOOD RUBIES with Mailan Doquang

Book Cover: BLOOD RUBIESRune Sarasin is about to learn just how quickly the life of a jewel thief can spiral out of control.…

Seven days are all it takes for Rune Sarasin’s life to completely derail. It starts with a routine heist: lifting a pouch of rubies from the Bangkok hotel room of wealthy smuggler Charles Lemaire. Rune nearly gets caught when Lemaire’s goons give chase, but she manages to escape with her boyfriend Kit. Then Kit delivers some terrifying news: his teenage sister Madee has gone missing. They track her cell phone to the dangerous Khlong Toei slum, but the trail ends there. The night gets even worse when Rune realizes she lost the pouch of gems somewhere in the slum while searching for Madee.

Charles Lemaire is the wrong man to mess with. He is a perfectionist when it comes to both his attire and his crimes, and he isn’t afraid to kill to get what he wants. When he catches up to Rune and Kit, he gives Rune an ultimatum: return his rubies or she will never see her boyfriend again. Now Rune must race against time to either recover the lost gems or find something even more valuable with which to ransom Kit back from Lemaire. But she also still needs to find out what happened to Madee. As Rune investigates deeper into the shadows of the Khlong Toei slum, she uncovers a web of crime with consequences far more insidious than just one missing girl and a handful of stolen rubies.

Mailan Doquang recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her debut genre, BLOOD RUBIES.

Author Photo: Mailan Doquang

Mailan Doquang
photo credit: Don Selby

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

It was more like a series of moments. As an art and architectural historian, I’ve thought a lot about the illegal trade in cultural property, from archaeological finds to Nazi-looted art. At the same time, my husband’s research on human rights in Thailand put him in touch with organizations that fight human trafficking. Our work got me thinking about how people profit from various types of trafficking, including the smuggling of gemstones, which became the central theme of my book.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

I drew inspiration from so many sources. I love heists, especially Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin stories. The first season of Lupin came out on Netflix while I was writing this book. Around the same time, I watched a series called The Serpent, which is a fictionalized account of the Charles Sobhraj story, a mixed-race gemstone dealer who murdered tourists in Thailand in the 1970s. It definitely felt like the stars were aligned!

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

Mixed-race protagonists are rare in mysteries and thrillers, but over 10% of the US population identifies as mixed race and multiracial Americans are growing at three times the rate as the rest of the population. I wanted to explore what it means to straddle different worlds, not just morally, because my main character is a thief, but also racially and culturally. What interested me was how contrasting pulls of identity and biography could be woven into an action-forward thriller.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Representation matters. I hope readers will identify with Rune and enjoy seeing the world through her eyes.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I’m juggling two projects right now. The first is the sequel to BLOOD RUBIES, scheduled for release in 2025, the second is the story of a Vietnamese American museum curator whose life unravels after she becomes the victim of a violent crime.


Mailan Doquang has published extensively on the art and architecture of medieval France. She is an avid traveler, photographer, and runner. She is a Canadian transplant and longtime resident of New York City.