Burdett is a former lawyer who lived and worked in Hong Kong for twelve years. For a time, he was employed by the Hong Kong Government. He later worked in private practice. Eventually, Burdett decided to abandon law and pursue a career as a detective novelist.
Burdett now splits his time between France and Bangkok and spends a lot of time researching in the red light areas of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.
A series of crime novels, mainly set in Bangkok; they consist of 4 books so far: Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts and The Godfather of Kathmandu. They centre on the philosophical Thai Buddhist detective, Sonchai Jitpleecheep, and his meditative internal dialogues. Sonchai is a "leuk krung" or half-caste. He is the son of a former "rented-wife" (a type of prostitute) and a "farang." His father, a U.S. military officer, he has never known. Sonchai has spent much of his childhood in Europe and USA, and has acquired cultural insights. He is also seemingly unbribeable, which the novel portrays as part of his differentness.
The novels involve Thailand's sex industry and the red-light districts of Bangkok. Sexual matters are part of the narrative, including the juxtaposition of often conflicting Thai and Western norms and mores.
They contain cruel characters interwined with a wry sense of humour, and bizarre crimes. The crimes include execution by the release of a container full of cobra snakes, into a car where the driver is forcibly prevented from escaping (Bangkok 8), the theft of valuable tattoos (and their associated human skin) off the backs' of murder victims (Bangkok Tattoo), and homicide related to the production of a snuff video (Bangkok Haunts). Juxtaposed is the investigative nonchalance and Buddhist acceptance of an "arhat" detective who can earnestly meditate even in a Bangkok traffic-jam. Many popular shamanistic superstitions that have carried over into Buddhism in Thailand are explored. Past lives (reincarnation) and hungry ghosts feature heavily.
Burdett has expressed interest in moving beyond the crime/detective genre once his Bangkok series is complete.
Bangkok 8 was optioned by Millennium Films, which produced the fourth movie in the "Rambo" series in Thailand, and is serious about making the film according to Burdett. Producer John Thompson scouted locations in Bangkok, and James McTeigue, the director of "V for Vendetta", had been hired to direct, but production looks to have been cancelled.