Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Queen of Patpong
Jennifer Ramirez

The life of travel writer, Poke Rafferty, is turned upside down when a man from his wife's past comes up unexpectedly, threatening his family, in “The Queen of Patpong,” the fourth mystery in this series by Timothy Hallinan.


Hallinan's compassionate fourth Poke Rafferty thriller finds Poke and his live-in girlfriend, Rose, lastly married, but a specter from Rose's past as a dancer on Bangkok's notorious Patpong Road comes back to haunt her. As a naive country girl called Kwan, Rose fell for the charms of American Howard Horner, never suspecting that Horner's true interest in her involved something far darker than romance.

For American travel writer Poke Rafferty, life finally seems to hold some semblance of stability. He and his longtime love, Rose, have gone through with their much-deferred marriage ceremony, their adopted daughter, Miaow, a former street child, has become a loving, if occasionally difficult, part of the family, and the three of them live in relative comfort thanks to Rose's housekeeping business and Rafferty's writing.

Then a nightmare figure from Rose's time as a Patpong dancer barges into their world, shattering the peace they've worked so hard to obtain. His appearance threatens everything they cherish: their love, their home . . . their very lives. As a foreigner who's seen some of the worst Bangkok has to offer and survived confrontations with Thailand's most powerful and dangerous elements, Rafferty feels equal to most of the challenges Bangkok can throw at him. But now his only hope is to disco"ver the whole truth of Rose's past--a journey down the dark and twisting road that turned a shy, awkward village teenager into the queen of Asia's most lurid red-light street: Patpong Road. And just when Rafferty thought life was looking good, reality comes crashing in as he learns that the secrets from Rose's former life are practically impossible to accept--and even tougher to survive.

“The Queen of Patpong” is breakthrough  as a novel. Riveting, genuinely, moving, and entirely plausible. The primary plot here has an interesting, compelling storyline, one that probably deserves to be told, but it isn't all that substantial and feels more like a subplot, that the overall book would have been more dynamic, more thrilling if you will, had there been a separate conflict between Poke and Howard Horner driving the action. Without a doubt, about half the book - the second of its three parts - is backstory, a historical perspective of Rose's journey from her small Thai village to the big city, written more along the lines of a research project than a work of fiction. To be sure, the characters and setting are strongly drawn, the narrative crisply delivered, the dialogue true - hallmarks of a really well-written novel.

Featuring the most impressive plot in the series to date, this spectacular thriller is Tim Hallinan's most ambitious and his best. If you have followed Poke and Rose's development, no doubt you have come to care for them deeply. Now their life together is severely challenged in this heart wrenching novel. "The Queen of Patpong" is a terrifying, heart-breaking, inspiring story of peril, love, and, ultimately, redemption in modern-day Thailand-and the most ambitious, influencing novel yet from thriller master Timothy Hallinan.

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Click on title, below, to read a review of other books by Timothy Hallinan

Crashed, the first book in the Junior Bender series.

The Fear Artist, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Fourth Watcher, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Breathing Water, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Nail Through the Heart, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.


Jennifer Ramirez, known as Jenny, has reviewed and edited for 5+ years. Originally from Toronto, she grew up performing and competing in rhythmic gymnastics. Jenny enjoys reviewing movies, books and music albums. She describes herself as funny and righteous, with a 'go that extra mile' attitude. Her philosophy is quite simple: try to live life to the fullest Jenny writes that hr passion is books. She reads and reviews current and back-list literary fiction, crime fiction, thrillers, occasionally science fiction, and narrative nonfiction. She also loves music. She's a huge fan of The Maine and All Time Low! Joy is her favorite word and creativity is something she can't live without.

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