Poke Rafferty was writing offbeat travel guides for the young and terminally bored when Bangkok stole his heart. Now the American expat is assembling a new family with Rose, the former go-go dancer he wants to marry, and Miaow, the tiny, streetwise urchin he wants to adopt.
But trouble in the guise of good intentions comes calling just when everything is beginning to work out. Poke agrees to take in Superman, Miaow's troubled and terrifying friend from the gutter. Then he agrees to help locate a distraught Aussie woman's missing uncle and accepts a generous payment to find a blackmailing thief. No longer gliding carelessly across the surface of a culture he doesn't really understand, suddenly Poke is plodding through dark and unfamiliar terrain - and everything and everyone he loves is in terrible danger.
©2007 Timothy Hallinan (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Don't miss your chance to read [A Nail Through the Heart ] before it starts winning all its awards.... every page shimmers with life and light. Hallinan's is a writer's writer, and this is great stuff!" (John Lescroart)
Thank you, Audible, for bringing Timothy Hallinan's Poke Rafferty to a new reader. Poke, Rose, Miaou and Boo come to life in the streets of Bangkok through Victor Bevine's excellent narration. There is depth in the relationships between the characters that is touching, multi-faceted and honest. Hallinan's ability to bring very difficult topics to light is almost heroic: he doesn't go for the easy answers, instead he presents a picture of a brutal world with tenderness for the victims and hope for those who are able to forge emotional bonds, however fragile, in spite of their pasts. A word of warning: the subject matter at the heart of the book is very hard to bear. If I had been reading the book instead of listening to it, I would have skipped many pages. It's probably a good thing that I couldn't - just because I don't want to read it, doesn't mean I shouldn't know it. Kudos to Mr. Hallinan. I can hardly wait to read the next Poke Rafferty book.
Having lived in Southeast Asia for over 12 years, I have to admit to having some trepidation about reading a book about a white guy named 'Poke'.
I shouldn't have worried. Hallinan offers up a marvelous blend of noir thriller, ethnographic study and a complex romance. I can honestly say I was engaged every minute of the 10 hours.
His portrait of Bangkok's seamy underbelly is spot on. And yet he takes the reader through it with enough of a detached eye to focus us on the central mystery. His main character is an brilliantly flawed, engaging and open man who draws the reader in and doesn't let go.
The story takes a serious journey into the world of child prostitution, abuse and pornography and the devastation it leaves behind in the lives it's touched. It also takes a haunting trip into the horrors of the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge. Hallinan wraps it up in a web of police corruption, Buddhist mysticism and the jaded expat's view of Bangkok.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Some of it is extremely gritty. But it is not sensational in its approach and well worth the listening time and the credit.
The narrator is perfect for the story. You couldn't ask for better.
63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.
I gave this book to a friend of mine, who said that it made her feel like she was in Bangkok. And, she's been there. The tragedy of Northern Thai children being sold into prostitution by their farmer fathers has never been explored with such empathy as Tim Hallinan summons up. The small family of Poke Rafferty, his wife Rose and their adopted street urchin Miaow struggles to survive and thrive in the very real Bangkok, where the super-rich own the country while thousands of beggar-children work the streets for bhat, one of which equals about forty cents, I believe. Tim's writing is beginning to garner the lavish praise that he deserves, as his peers now call him the best thriller-writer working today. He is, though, much more than that. His sense of humor is peerless; sharp, LOL funny, touching and deeply human. His characters are people who are living through their own pain and pleasure in a way which most of us would like to believe we also do. Poke's love for Rose and Miaow is thrilling, too, in a way in which the tag "thriller" never achieves when other authors try it.
I don't know how the publishers found Victor Bevine, but he is perfect for Tim Hallinan's work, and I look forward to hearing him perform other books. His voice is agile, soothing when that's what's called for and exciting when the book wants that. His Asian accents are convincing. I know that Tim lives in Southeast Asia six months of the year; it must be that Mr. Bevine has similar life experience. He could not do these people so well if he hadn't been there, and not simply as a tourist.
You will love every minute you spend with this book, and with the other three in the series: The Fourth Watcher, Breathing Water, and, Tim's masterpiece, The Queen of Patpong. He is winning awards for this work, and he deserves them. Jump on the train and enjoy the ride. You won't be disappointed. These books will never be on the NYT top-ten lists, I don't believe, because Tim is writing for a small audience: us.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
Hallinan is writing some of the most enjoyable, offbeat crime novels around today. He creates fascinating, deeply human characters. His Bangkok soon begins to feel familiar to us and yet still never ceases to fascinate, unsettle and beguile. And Poke Rafferty is an unusual combination of sweet, domestic yearning and exotic street smarts, fiercely determined to protect and nurture his incipient family and precariously balanced between viscera and grey matter.
As with all of the Rafferty books, the plot of "Nail" is complex and satisfying. Also typical is the fact that there are no easy answers to the good/evil questions as the story unwinds. In fact, the traditional categories of villain and victim are turned on their heads here.
This is the first of the Poke Rafferty series, and a great place to start, though I began with "The Queen of Patpong," a remarkably good book, and have enjoyed coming back to the early offerings without any problem with spoilers. As I write this I find that "Queen" is currently unavailable, but I hope Audible will restore it to the active list very soon. Wherever you begin, I strongly advise you to start now. This is very good stuff and is extremely well read by Victor Bevine. Enjoy!
Best narrator I can ever remember listening too. His voices of the characters makes them come alive and you believe they really exist and have real lives. The subject matter may be hard for some. It is gritty novel of perversion in Thailand. For those of us who have spent some time in Asia, we can relate to third world societies, corruption and poverty all condoned by the ruling elite. I will definitely be reading the sequels.
I tend to select 4 and 5 star rated audiobooks by listeners, and that is how I selected this one. I then was transform to the underside of Bangkok, Thailand. The narrator is excellent and this is what helps bring the story alive. Recommended to those who enjoy mystery. Warning, the subject matter touches upon children, and the inhumanity they can suffer. Good does prevail in the end.
Despair to hope.
The subject matter is something we know exists but difficult for us to influence.I am glad the author chose it in order to keep us "educated" and hopefully involved in some small way to begin to change the despair to hope.
I have never listened to the narrator. But there is no question that he will now be at the top of my list.
I had wished the book would have gone on for more chapters but it is gratifying to know there are three more books to look forward to listening.
Do not pass this book by, you'll miss wonderful story.
Crusty old broad who spins, knits tuques, does other people's taxes & rides herd on a Motorcycle School. In my spare time I work as a bookkeeper so Audible helps me get through all the hours of data entry!
Yes. I love the action. I love the way Poke tries to correct the terrible things done to the people he loves.
Yes. And I liked it so much I went out & bought all the other books in the series.
Potter in NC. Intense books allow for creative freedom. Busy hands+distracted brain=free forms.
Not likely unless its many years from now. I have a tendency to remember good novels.
The Protagonist is probably more wonderful than life but you can't help but really like this guy.
The best performers are story tellers that do not intrude on the story they tell.
Not really. It's best to anticipate the next "chapter."
A great combination of writer and narrator.
I like mystery writers like kate Wilhelm, Authur Upfield and Ellis Peters, where even the bad guys are not blood thirsty, crazy, manics. I like science fiction that has a sociological bent like Ursula Le Guin, Robert Sawyer and the early works of Orson Scott Card. But I don't much like the science fiction that is just space ships and interstellar fighting.
The story was full of people torturing children. Too gruesome for my taste. I couldn't finish it.
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