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.
Mystery. 2007. Print length: 336 pages.