Hallinan’s unlikely hero shines in this sometimes funny, always engrossing and undeniably authentic story that explores a...

THE QUEEN OF PATPONG

Hallinan (Breathing Water, 2009, etc.) takes his Poke Rafferty series to the next level with this taut, offbeat and fast-moving thriller that focuses on Bangkok’s red-light district and sex trade.

Travel writer Poke has finally persuaded his live-in love Rose, a statuesque former bar girl in Bangkok’s Patpong district, to marry him. The couple and their adopted daughter Miaow are happy. Miaow, a former street urchin, is doing well in school and preparing for her part in an upcoming version of The Tempest; Rose’s cleaning service, which hires former bar workers, is successful; and Poke’s latest book is doing well. But as anyone familiar with Hallinan’s previous entries in this series knows, that much serendipity means Poke’s trouble meter is running. This time the trouble centers around Rose, who finds her past flooding back to haunt her in the worst possible form—a man she thought was dead pops up with the clear intention of not only disrupting her life, but taking it, along with the lives of the other people who matter to her. Poke is well aware of Rose’s past—he met her in a bar—but he had no clue as to what she endured at the hands of this man, or the detailed story of her journey from village girl to prostitute. In the second part of the novel, Rose poignantly tells her story, and this is where Hallinan’s writing really shines: Readers can feel the grime and poverty of village life, smell the streets of Bangkok, taste the fear when Rose—previously known as “Kwan”—fights for her life in her own, private version of The Tempest. Stalked by a resourceful killer dedicated to wiping out his family, Poke and his loyal and incorruptible friend, police officer Arthit, still mourning the loss of his wife, put together a plan to bring the hunter into the kill zone, hoping they can end the nightmare that began years ago in a Bangkok club.

Hallinan’s unlikely hero shines in this sometimes funny, always engrossing and undeniably authentic story that explores a dark and fascinating side of Thailand.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-167226-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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