The Mystery of Jim Thompson
I’ve just returned to the UK after holidaying in Thailand. One of the many highlights of the trip was a visit to the beautiful Bangkok house of the American silk trader Jim Thompson. Thompson (not to be confused with the crime writer of the same name) was an OSS agent during the Second World War. He was stationed in Thailand at the end of the conflict and quickly fell in love with country. Thompson settled in Thailand permanently in 1946 and focused his efforts on revitalising the then declining silk trade. Thompson’s efforts were highly successful, and he achieved worldwide fame after his silks were used for the costumes in the film version of The King and I (1956). Thompson is a revered figure in Thailand today, and the Thompson brand is still very popular.
On Easter Sunday, 1967, while holidaying in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, Thompson left the bungalow he was staying in and went for a walk. He never returned. A large-scale manhunt ensued but no trace of Thompson nor any viable theory as to what happened to him has ever emerged. Six months after his disappearance, Thompson’s sister was murdered in the US in what appears to have been a bungled burglary.