QUEEN OF PATPONG by Timothy Hallinan
āI let one of the men rename me. A man gave me the name Rose ā you didnāt know that, did you, Poke?…He said, this man, he said that Kwan was too hard to remember, even though itās a good name and it means āspirit,ā and that the rose was the queen of flowers and I was the queen of Patpong.ā She laughs, rough as a cough. āThe queen of Patpong. A kingdom of whores and viruses. Death with a smile.ā
Review by Lynn Harnett Ā (OCT 23, 2010)
The fourth in Hallinanās involving Poke Rafferty Bangkok thriller series finds the American travel writer enjoying family life with new wife Rose and adopted daughter Miaow.
Miaow, a former street kid, now attends a multi-national private school where, determined to be like everybody else, sheās renamed herself Mia. Rose is Rose, tall, edgy, beautiful, happy in her newfound domesticity. Then a blast from her bargirl past turns up and in minutes thereās blood drawn and terror in their hearts.
James Horner, big, handsome and with private military skills, has a special grudge against Rose since she once tried to kill him. Rose isnāt saying much more than that, at least not until Rafferty has a couple more run-ins with Horner and his equally menacing sidekick. As a writer, Rafferty tends to meet brawn with brain, which is a lot of fun for the reader and still generates plenty of bloody action.
But with her family falling apart and another innocent girl hurt because she helped Rafferty, Rose decides to tell her story ā which takes up the middle of the book.
Hallinanās empathetic prose keeps this familiar story fresh ā a bright, impoverished village girl, who runs away to escape being sold by her alcoholic father. We get a vivid picture of the gradations of bargirls – Kwan (Roseās real name), more beautiful than most, has more choices. Hallinan takes us behind the scenes, giving us the girlsā point of view. Kwanās story, full of pathos, friendship, and street-wise education, punctuated with occasional cruelty and common perils, builds to a crescendo of terror that makes it clear that Horner will stop at nothing to kill her. So Rafferty has to act, not just react.
With the help of his police friend and fellow Shakespeare aficionado, Arthit, Rafferty devises a plan. Trouble is Horner isnāt just big, heās smart too, and much more ruthless than Rafferty. Hallinan meshes action, craftiness and the Bangkok streets to build to a white-knuckled and satisfying conclusion.
Hallinan knows his city, immersing us in Raffertyās milieu of bar girls, school plays, cops and neighborliness. Miaowās adolescent rebelliousness, her ardent and sometimes heartless desire to leave her streetwise past behind and be just like every other middleclass girl, and her endearing smarts all ring true.
Fans will be especially pleased to know more of Roseās back-story, but first time readers will find themselves right at home in this exotic world.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 60 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||William Morrow (August 17, 2010)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Tim Hallinan|
|EXTRAS:||Queen of Patpong video on YouTube|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Read our review of:|
Poke Rafferty, Bangkok series:
- Nail Through the Heart (2007)
- The Fourth Watcher (2008)
- Breathing Water (2009)
- The Queen of Patpong (2010)
- The Fear Artist (July 2012)
Junior Bender, Burglar series:
Simeon Grist, Los Angeles series:
- The Four Last Things (1989)
- Everything But the Squeal (1990)
- Skin Deep (1991)
- Incinerator (1992)
- The Bone Polisher (1993)
- The Man with No Time (1994)