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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan

For some time, I've read Sam's reviews of the Poke Rafferty series by Timothy Hallinan  and recently Cathy at  Kittling Books also mentioned the series as a favorite.  

I can concur with their opinions.  I began with the first book and fell into the atmosphere of Thailand with a cautious thump.  For Westerners, Thailand and Bangkok is a curious and exotic place and culture.  Hallinan seems to have captured both the good and the bad by inhabiting it with a mixture of characters that seem to emerge as full-blown individuals.

Blending exceptionally dark situations with heartening and uplifting acts of compassion, A Nail Through the Heart introduces Poke Rafferty, a travel writer who unexpectedly finds himself captivated by Thailand and its people.  

From description:  "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." 

When Poke agrees to help find a missing man, he finds himself deep in an ugliness he could not have imagined.  His investigation leads to another kind of evil and a danger that could affect his embryonic family unit. 

There are places that break your heart and stretch your faith in humanity (the killing fields of Cambodia and the abuse of children), but they are beautifully offset by acts of love, kindness, and humor.  I honestly cannot imagine how Hallinan manages to accomplish this.

It has taken me some time to get around to trying this series, but I am in now.  From Rose, Miaow, Superman, and Arthrit, I have, like Poke, found an antidote to the dark.

Purchased.
Mystery.  2007.  Print length:  336 pages.

9 comments:

  1. I am so, so glad you liked this book! Hallinan is an exceptional writer who's appearing in a virtual event at The Poisoned Pen this afternoon with Ragnar Jonasson and Jeffrey Siger-- two other favorite writers of mine. Guess what I'll be doing?! LOL

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    1. I hope you enjoyed your virtual event! I was certainly impressed with Hallinan's writing and his exceptional characters. :)

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  2. I got to visit Thailand once and I totally loved it, but I thought Bangkok was one big crazy (scary) city. I'd read this one just for the setting. Your description of the characters just makes me want to read it even more. :)

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    1. How exciting that you were able to visit, Lark! One of my daughter's best friend's mother is Thai. Erin loved her--in fact, all of Chom's friends loved Miss Sue. Bangkok does sound like a scary city, though.

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  3. I am so pleased that you tried a Poke Rafferty novel and enjoyed it so much.

    I really envy the fact that you got to start with the first book in the series and still have a huge number of series pages and books to explore. Hallinan does a wonderful job of creating memorable characters that he uses consistently from book to book.

    I've still not read the last book in the series because I think it will break my heart to have to say goodbye to Poke and the family. I'm already grieving and I haven't even bought the book yet.

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    1. I know how you feel about getting to the end of a beloved series. I'm glad I'm at the beginning, but I do think I will space the books out to delay the end. Usually, I race through a series when a lot of the books have been published, but this one deserves some time to simmer and to let me anticipate the next book.

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  4. I'd love to read it for the setting itself. :) Bangkok is a fascinating place with lots of shopping, but I'd be scared to wander around alone.

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    1. As Sam and Cathy have mentioned, the characters seem authentic, the setting and culture fascinating. I hope you give the series a try!

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  5. It is a big responsibly for an author to write about a culture and/or country not their own. But it sounds like Hallinan pulls it off.

    The only book I have ever read about Bangkok or Thailand was Bangkok Eight by John Burdett which was entertaining in a hard-boiled way. But it has been many years since I read it.

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