American travel writer Poke Rafferty has seen - and survived - some of the worst Bangkok has to offer. But now, finally married to his longtime love, Rose, and raising the young daughter, Miaow, they adopted from the streets, Poke believes his life is stable at last. Then a nightmare figure from Rose's time as a Patpong dancer barges into their world, threatening their peace, their love, their home, their lives.
Suddenly, Poke's only recourse is to uncover the whole truth of Rose's past to follow the dark and twisting journey that turned a shy, awkward village teenager into the queen of Asia's most lurid red-light district: Patpong Road. But the secrets that await him may be almost impossible for Poke to accept - and even harder to survive.
©2010 Timothy Hallinan (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
“The Queen of Patpong is a terrific page-turner, and the surprising denouement will thrill readers who want the good guys—or girls—to win in the end.” (Booklist)
“Hallinan takes his Poke Rafferty series to the next level with this taut, offbeat and fast-moving thriller.... Sometimes funny, always engrossing, and undeniably authentic” (Kirkus Reviews)
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"The best thriller writer you have never heard of."
I have to thank the pair of reviewers who took the time to recommend this book. The Publisher's Summary sounded banal and the leading character's name triggered my eye rolling reflex. Well, "Sooprize, sooprize, sooprize," as Gomer Pyle used to say. Tim Hallinan can write! Characters, plot, action, dialogue, local color: he fires on all five cylinders and even leaves you wishing the ride had lasted a little longer. And at the risk of suffering the furies of hell, I will even presume to suggest that he writes some terrific female characters. Add to all this the brilliant way he manages to weave through the story a description of an artful high school production of "The Tempest" and you have what I found to be a quite extraordinary piece of work.
I am not quite sure what to call the book. Thriller seems much too reductive, and it is not a classic mystery, crime fiction or adventure. It is, by turns, gripping, moving, and hilarious, and it is fascinating throughout. So I urge you to get to know Poke Rafferty. And Rose, and Miaow and the women of Patpong. You might even get to like his name as I have.
"My favorite kind of book. I could not put it down"
I'd heard of this book so bought it yesterday, the first day it was available. I listened in one gulp. Great characters (both the "good" ones and the "bad" ones) great descriptions of the culture, and interesting plot. The reader is also excellent. Doesn't get in the way, well paced. Glad to see there are other books by this author recently added. I'll be starting another shortly. Great addition to the action/thriller collection here at audible.
"A masterpiece. You must not miss this book."
Tim Hallinan has become my favorite writer in the past three years or so, and each new author I try just solidifies Tim's position. The fourth in a wonderful series, Queen is the culmination of a series which will be very hard to top. The plot tells the story of Rose, a dirt-farm town girl who can only survive by going into the Bangkok sex trade. Tim tells this story with such passion that you will fall in love with Rose by the end of the book, as well as with Miaow, the street-urchin who is adopted by Rose and Poke Rafferty, who is the nominal protagonist of the series. Tim is so funny that it's hard to believe that these are "thrillers," but he will make you LOL, repeatedly. The book is also scary, with one scene in particular that will leave you breathless. I guarantee it.
The book follows both Rose's harrowing climb and Miaow's performance in a school production of The Tempest, with such sweetness infusing every scene that you want to know these people in your own life. The scenes in the sex trade are brutal and make you want to close your eyes and ears, but you won't, because you simply must know how these three, plus Poke's best friend, Arthit, survive. The individual evil in the plot, a mercenary named Howard Horner, is so sharply drawn that your skin literally crawls when he appears. The evils of the kids' lives in the sex trade is almost unbearable, but somehow Tim makes the kids so vibrant and the women so completely real that the result is anything but one-dimensional. The women are neither whores with hearts of gold nor just throwaway tramps. Their story could not be told better if Shakespeare were living there now.
The narrator, Victor Bevine, is perfect. Every Asian voice, every American character, each scene is told so beautifully that my only fantasy is that Frank Muller could return to us and read Tim's work. There can be no higher praise, in my opinion.
Pretty soon you'll be telling your friends about these books, as I am.
"Not sure how I missed this. It's terrific."
I've loved the whole Poke Rafferty series, but somehow missed this one. It may in fact be the best of the bunch.
I'm not sure how to explain what Timothy Hallinan does, but it's really quite amazing. He develops colorful, yet believable characters. He makes me think I've been to Bangkok. He has a way of writing dialog that just feels right. Then he weaves in a mystery/thriller. On top of all that, Victor Bevine narrates it perfectly. It's a winning combination in every way.
Some of the subjects are rough so this may not be the right series for everyone. But if you love the way Dennis Lehane creates characters or the sense of place Pat Conroy gives his books, this may be the right series for you. It really is that good.
Richard Delman, one of my favorite reviewers on Audible, recommended this highly so I gave it a shot. I'm so glad I did. I've been through the whole series twice now and am anxiously awaiting the next release.
"Tim Hallinan's Best to Date"
A well written thriller featuring Hallinan's likeable character, Poke Rafferty. This novel takes us back to the start of Rose's career as a Bangkok bar girl. The story is not only a page turner but give a realistic picture to the bar girl industry in Thailand.
This is Tim's best work to date in his Poke Hall in an series.it features all the noe well loved characters; Rose Poke's ex bar girl wife, their adopted former street kid, Mixed and Poke,'s mate, the Thai Police Lt Colonel Ardit.
A great read.
"A Fabulous $4.95 Find!"
Yes, very interesting story. Sometimes you pick losers but this is a winner!
Yes, very suspenseful and unusual, not your usual thriller.
I thought he did a good job with narration, there were many characters along with the Thai dialect.
I had to pause on occasion because of the intensity, but I finished it within a couple of days.
"Another good Poke Rafferty mystery."
Characters in this series keep getting better and better as the author digs deeper into their lives. Excellent job of detailing lives of village girls and bar girls with compassion and dignity. Very impressive for a male author.
"Entertaining and informative"
If you want the inside scoop on what life is like for a Bangkok club dancer this is a must read, also entertaining, did get for $4.95 but I would say it is worth a full credit also.
"Glad to know this author."
It is so human and kindly written about a cruel world.
I believe this story and it moves me. Never a dull moment and it is full of humanity.
He gives voice to the above, he is absolutely great!
Though It is so foreign it and has open my eyes wide up for my own fortune.
"A Bankog Thriller With An Individual Perspective"
The Queen of Patpong goes beyond the aim of the typical thriller; it definitely is very suspenseful, but the depth of character development and the description of the larger problem of the sex industry made real through the examples of Toy, Rose and several other girls broaden the scope of the book. What I liked best was the way Timothy Halloran described the bar scenes with no hint of voyeurism, but instead with the sensibility of a friend watching. Through this individual perspective you see how all the girls involved try to preserve some shred of dignity in their lives, and to simply survive.
The main bad characters Howard and John appear very believable in most all their actions although I wonder if someone with Howard's understanding of 'having fun' would indeed spare as much time in preparing the girl for the final showdown. In any event, Howard's true intent is masked just long enough to sustain the suspense without losing you in the process.
The family dynamics between Poke, Rose and their young daughter, Miaow are interesting and any parent will recognize the challenges Miaows faces obviously amplified by Rose's past and its ramifications into the present including the maniac persecuting them. The Publisher's summary indicating that their love and peace is threatened may mislead some to expect a bit of a love story mixed in, but that is not the case. Poke appears genuinely in love with Rose and very protective of her, but I couldn't detect much of a vibe from Rose's perspective. Maybe that is more discernible in parts 1 and 2 of the Poke Rafferty series.
I highly recommend the book for anyone who loves thrillers and expects the additional enjoyment of well-drawn characters, a realistic and meaningful backdrop to the crime story, and plenty of local color.
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