An accidental collision on a Bangkok sidewalk goes very wrong when the man who ran into Rafferty dies in his arms, but not before saying three words: "Helen Eckersley. Cheyenne." Seconds later, the police arrive, denying that the man was shot. That night, Rafferty is interrogated by Thai secret agents who demand to know what the dead man said, but Rafferty can't remember. When he's finally released, Rafferty arrives home to find that his apartment has been ransacked. In the days that follow, he realizes he's under surveillance.
The second time men in uniform show up at his door, he manages to escape the building and begins a new life as a fugitive. As he learns more about his situation, it becomes apparent that he's been caught on the margins of the war on terror, and that his opponent is a virtuoso artist whose medium is fear.
©2012 Timothy Hallinan (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Edgar-finalist Hallinan’s heartrending, unforgettable fifth Poke Rafferty thriller." (Publishers Weekly)
This is the fifth novel in the Poke Rafferty series. Frankly, I didn't think he could top the Queen of Patpong, Wisely, he hasn't tried to do that. Queen was a love story to Rose, in addition to being many other things. Here, Rose and Miaow are exiled, almost to the point of disappearing. What Hallinan does do, however, is brilliant. Poke's half-sister, Ming Li, who had a vivid role in a prior book, is brought forward as a major character in this one. Hallinan writes women so well that, even though we miss Rose and Miaow almost viscerally, Ming Li is so compelling that she almost fills the void. The story is typical Hallinan Bangkok, with Poke running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to stay alive. The CIA and the Phoenix Program from Viet Nam and the US Embassy and a villainous Major Shen and a horrendously dangerous mass murderer from Viet Nam, an American named Murphy, a flock of old spooks who desperately try to keep their old lifestyle alive: all these and more, much more. Poke's friend Arthit appears in a heart-breaking role, and we find ourselves still mourning the loss of Nui, his dead wife. Once again we get Bangkok in all its lurid splendor. Once again Victor Bevine does a marvelous job of bringing this masterful work of creativity to us lucky Audible listeners. I hope Tim Hallinan has a string of these in his remarkable mind, ready to write, because I could listen to his stuff for just about ever.
I admit to being a fan of this series and put down everything else I was reading in order to listen to this book. I was not disappointed. The Fear Artist is a worthy sequel to The Queen of Patpong, one of my all-time favourites. The book opens with an accidental encounter on a street in Bangkok - guns, paint, cameras, and police acting more brutal than usual - and Poke Rafferty somehow ends up on the run. Rose and Miaow are out of town for most of the book and I missed them. This being said, the story is more believable for their absence. This is a problem Poke must solve without his Thai family. Even the stalwart Ardit is sidelined - recovering from the death of his beloved wife, he is not his usual insightful, wry self. Mr. Hallinan continues to explore the themes of family, nature and nurture, as well as the impact of "others" on South East Asia. In so doing, he creates a credible, often heart-breaking story, that completely absorbed my attention until the end. Victor Bevine is wonderful and I can't imagine anyone else narrating this book.
Poke is home alone as Rose and Miaow have gone to visit Rose’s mother. So Poke decides to paint the apartment. He goes out in the continuous rain to buy paint. Carrying his cans home, he runs into a group of people chasing a man. The chased man runs right into him and they both fall over. Then a shot rings out, and the man dies in Poke’s arms after uttering a couple of words. The police arrive and say he hasn’t been shot. Poke goes home, and then the police invade his house and take him away for questioning. It becomes clear that something is going on that involves national security both in Thailand and in the United States. Poke, in much danger, leaves home and lives as a fugitive with the help of his friends. Of particular danger to him is Murphy, a man who has a bad history from 25 years ago in the Vietnam war and is still practicing the kinds of terror he used against the Vietnamese then. Again, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year,
Old Broad with Keyboard
Nothing but Action.
I love the whole series of Poke Rafferty books & while they're similar, I don't think they can really be compared to any other series of books because they're set in such an unfamiliar place. The morals, obligations & society of the streets of Bangkok can be very alien to the educated North American. I love the action, the mystery & yes, even the brutality of this man fighting to right the wrongs done to his family, friends & acquaintances. He's a treasure especially when all the dirty money falls through his pockets into the pockets of the needy.
Yes. I almost did too.
Give me more.
Focused; Exciting; Sincere.
Setting the scene in various parts of the story.
The hidden world of Precious. In the hedge. Very moving. Very touching.
I enjoyed the sights and thoughts of Bangkok.
Maybe I'm getting jaded but I'm afraid this follows the usual plot lines, written like a summer action thriller movie. Hallinan writes well, but the bad guys are pure evil, and the good guys are invincible. The narration is excellent, which helps. I've only read two in the Poke Rafferty series, but I think I've got all there is to get.
In the epilogue, the author refers the reader to the book "The Phoenix Program" by Douglas Valentine as a factual account. Critical reviews question that and refer to the more reliable "Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix" by Stuart Herrington, which sounds like it is worth reading.
Hallinan is at the top of his game. I've enjoyed every one of his books and this is one of the best.
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