Jim Thompson’s life was the stuff of fiction. He was an American, an architect, an army officer, a spy, a brilliant silk merchant and collector of antiques. He was born in 1906 to wealthy parents, and his grandfather was a noted Union general during the American Civil War.
Thompson’s early career throughout the 1930’s as an architect wasn’t particularly noteworthy. But, his life took an exciting turn when, at the height of World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, recruited him. His first posting was in North Africa aiding the Free French and from there he was sent to Europe.
He continued on to Bangkok where he ultimately became known as the Thai Silk King. His hard work and vision brought the superb quality of Thai silk to the world at large, and he revitalized the Thai cottage industry.
During his time in Thailand, Jim Thompson became a frequent visitor to Malaysia, and he was particularly fond of the Moonlight Cottage in the heart of the Cameron Highlands, an old British Hill station.
He had a genuine love of nature and frequently took walks off the beaten track. On the day he disappeared; he had lunch with friends and, after returning to the Cottage, told his companion, Mrs. Constance Mangskau that he was going for a walk. By evening, his friends, fearing an accident, called the police. An international manhunt ensued, but Jim Thompson had disappeared without a trace. Was it simply an accident or could Jim have committed suicide? Did something from his colourful past that caught up with him or a business deal gone sour? Did local aborigines take him? Could he have been involved in the Southeast Asian drug scene? All theories led to dead ends, and his disappearance remains a mystery to this day.