Hallinan (A Nail Through the Heart, 2007, etc.) returns with another thriller featuring the Bangkok-based ex-pat with a penchant for landing himself on the business end of a gun.
Poke Rafferty lives in Bangkok—a haven for retired spies and others with questionable pasts. He makes his home with the statuesque Rose and Miaow, a street urchin turned adopted daughter. As Rafferty, a writer, gathers material for his latest book, he comes face-to-face with a strikingly beautiful, oddly familiar woman. That fateful meeting will soon turn Rafferty's life into a nightmare. He has just successfully proposed marriage to Rose when the happy occasion is violently interrupted. Soon an acquaintance dies and a mysterious, unwelcome man enters Rafferty's world, bringing with him an emotional conundrum and a bevy of killers. Rafferty wants to ignore the intruder but needs help to save Rose and Miaow, as well as the wife of close friend Arthit, a police official. With Arthit's help, Rafferty concocts a risky scheme, but the pair's efforts are complicated by an odd mix of former bar girls turned maids, Chinese criminals, ex-spies and crooked cops. Hallinan offers a taut story line enhanced by an insider's look at Thai culture.
Although not quite as compelling as the first Rafferty outing, this book features an unlikely but likable hero and provides readers with an informed glimpse into a world they are not likely to otherwise experience.