by Timothy Hallinan
2009 / 368 pages
read by Victor Bevine 11h 43m
I’ve been so meaning to get back to Poke Rafferty in Bangkok, but 1. these are a bit grittier than most of my favorite crime novels and 2. I don’t usually read books in the same series back-to-back. Or so I thought until I realized I’d got all caught up with Tara French and Jussi Adler-Olsen and those are fairly gritty – to say nothing of Don Winslow’s The Cartel and Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings. So having a bit of time to read my own choices (I’m so addicted to reading group choices) here I am!
As those familiar with the series know, Poke Rafferty is an American travel writer living in Bangkok and in books 1 and 2 married a Thai bar girl and adopted a street urchin. These threads continue in Breathing Water.
I guess Poke is a good poker player because as the story opens he’s playing with some big shots and wins the rights to the biography of Khun Pan, a notorious man who is either devil or angel, depending on whose story you believe. And therein lies the plot because there are two different parties wanting to use Rafferty’s talents with their version of Pan’s story.
In another plot thread a young beggar woman who works for a crime mob is given a baby to make her begging more profitable.
In between we get the ongoing relationship between Poke, Rose and Miaow as Miaow goes through some growing up pains – she’s apparently very bright but doesn’t quite fit anywhere.
So Hallinan has done it again – I really enjoyed the book – it’s fast-paced, suspense and intelligently written. Highly recommended if you enjoy somewhat gritty thrillers.