The human vermin who infest Bangkok inch ever closer to travel writer Poke Rafferty’s growing family.
Andrew Nguyen, the boy Rafferty’s adopted daughter, Miaow, has a crush on, has one hard-nosed father. Capt. Nguyen, business liaison for the Vietnamese Embassy, is not only determined that his son marry a Vietnamese woman; he’s not about to buy Andrew another cellphone. So when Andrew loses his iPhone, Miaow, who knows just where to purchase stolen phones, helps him buy a replacement on the sly. The only trouble is that the phone contains photos of two cops who have very recently turned up dead, and somebody wants the phone and its virtual contents back badly enough to threaten Miaow, Andrew and Andrew’s whole family. Rafferty would be the obvious person to turn to if Miaow weren’t so hurt by learning that her adoptive mother, Rose, a former Patpong dancer her father rescued and married (The Fear Artist, 2012, etc.), has just become pregnant, and neither of her parents saw fit to tell her the news themselves. Juggling his latest domestic crisis as he works with Lt. Col. Arthit, his friend on the force, Rafferty connects the mystery of the dead police to a conspiracy that’s been festering for years. Although the master puppeteer who’s been pulling the strings seems to appear out of nowhere with suspiciously convenient timing, Rafferty’s climactic confrontation with him will satisfy readers’ most self-righteous desires for revenge even as it promises a rare moment of equipoise for this rewarding franchise.
“You can’t live for the dead,” Rafferty keeps getting reminded. His latest adventure is a compelling demonstration of just how untrue that is and a stirring account of his strenuous attempts to live for the living.