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 t..Show More »hrough 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.
Timothy Hallinan is as good as any mystery/thriller writer I know at immersing the reader in the world and situation of his characters. He uses wonde..Show More »rfully evocative detail to bring Bangkok to vibrant and chaotic life even for someone who has never been there. He paces the development of his plots expertly, keeping multiple threads twining all the time but never allowing them to become confusing or tedious. He holds back just enough information to allow us to enjoy the surprising revelation without feeling that we are being toyed with. And he has created a familiar cast of characters who are so appealing that we cannot help but be invested in their fates. Add more than a dollop of humor, much of it domestic and comically bittersweet to anyone who has lived for more than a couple decades, and you have a mixture so rich and familiar that it feels as though it is coming out of your own family. As a result, there is an intimacy in his writing which makes the threat or occurrence of violence almost physically painful, engaging the listener very powerfully.
Hallinan is one of the few writers whose books I ration, not wanting to gobble them all up at once. (Jo Nesbo falls into the same category.) I recommend him very highly to listeners who have not yet encountered Poke and Rose and Miaow. You'll have no problem staying immersed in these wonderful stories, I promise.
I have to thank the pair of reviewers who took the time to recommend this book. The Publisher's Summary sounded banal and the leading character's nam..Show More »e triggered my eye rolling reflex. Well, "Sooprize, sooprize, sooprize," as Gomer Pyle used to say. Tim Hallinan can write! Characters, plot, action, dialogue, local color: he fires on all five cylinders and even leaves you wishing the ride had lasted a little longer. And at the risk of suffering the furies of hell, I will even presume to suggest that he writes some terrific female characters. Add to all this the brilliant way he manages to weave through the story a description of an artful high school production of "The Tempest" and you have what I found to be a quite extraordinary piece of work.
I am not quite sure what to call the book. Thriller seems much too reductive, and it is not a classic mystery, crime fiction or adventure. It is, by turns, gripping, moving, and hilarious, and it is fascinating throughout. So I urge you to get to know Poke Rafferty. And Rose, and Miaow and the women of Patpong. You might even get to like his name as I have.
Hallinan is a writer at the very peak of his power
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. Qu..Show More »een 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.
It's way up there. Tim's writing is unique. It is hard to make comparisons. Each book is filled with humor. There are several serious chuckles on ever..Show More »y page. I guarantee it. In addition, there is the beautiful family that Poke has created: his wife, Rose, their street-urchin daughter, Miaow (if you don't laugh at that name, then there may be no hope for you), a surprise character whom I will not name, as I don't want to be a spoiler; and Miaow's boyfriend, Andrew Nguyen, who is self-conscious, comes from a wealthy family, is a very gawky and awkward adolescent AND has diabetes: this is a well of inventiveness that it is a pleasure to jump into. I believe there is no bottom (not to stretch that analogy too far). The family also includes Poke's best friend, Arthit, a Bangkok policeman, who lets us see the corruption that the BPD is crippled by, as well as the individual well of human kindness that reaches into Arthit's soul. This is quite a band of characters, and Tim keeps us jumping from one scenario to the next. This is writing skill at its highest level. Tim is starting to win awards. The reviews from his colleagues are glittering. The cream has risen to the top. In the thriller/detective/quasi-detective genre (did I really write that?) Tim stands right up there with Thomas Perry. Fine company indeed.
I think that Tim Hallinan has finally dipped into the well of Bangkok and Poke Rafferty's life one time too many. I still love his writing, still, but..Show More » the speed of the narration is so fast that it's distracting. Of course I am liking Rose's pregnancy, and the fact that Miaow is growing up into an actress, but the setting is beginning to wear on me.