Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hallinan Does Bangkok

I thought that John Burdett's terrific books (Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts)
about Royal Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the only practicing Buddhist on the police force, were all I needed to know about the darker, sadder side of that popular tourist site. Then I began to read Timothy Hallinan's books about American travel writer Poke Rafferty, starting with his A Nail Through the Heart -- a moving thriller full of violence, depravity and love.

Hallinan's latest is even better: the kind of book that makes you wonder what more can he possibly do? This time, he mixes Poke's long-missing father, Frank, a half-sister he never knew he had, a Secret Service agent who could be the worst nightmare anyone ever had, a few honest and many more crooked Thai cops, and Col. Chu, the head of a Chinese triad who grabs Rafferty's beautiful love Rose and their street-smart nine-year-old adopted daughter. He says he'll kill them unless he gets back what Frank Rafferty stole from him: a whole lot of rubies and the papers to launch a new life for himself in America. Poke believes him, and so will you.

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