Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty Series #3)

( 35 )

Overview

"For American ex-pat writer Poke Rafferty, a late-night poker game delivers an unexpected prize: an "opportunity" to write the biography of Khun Pan, a flamboyant, vulgar, self-made billionaire with a criminal past and far-reaching political ambitions. The win seems like a stroke of luck, but as with so many things in vibrant, seductive, contradictory Bangkok - a city of innocence and evil, power and poverty - the allure of appearances masks something much darker. Within a few hours of folding his cards, Rafferty, his wife, Rose, beloved adopted

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Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty Series #3)

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Overview

"For American ex-pat writer Poke Rafferty, a late-night poker game delivers an unexpected prize: an "opportunity" to write the biography of Khun Pan, a flamboyant, vulgar, self-made billionaire with a criminal past and far-reaching political ambitions. The win seems like a stroke of luck, but as with so many things in vibrant, seductive, contradictory Bangkok - a city of innocence and evil, power and poverty - the allure of appearances masks something much darker. Within a few hours of folding his cards, Rafferty, his wife, Rose, beloved adopted daughter, Miaow, and best friend, Arthit, an honest Bangkok cop, have become pawns in a political struggle among some of Thailand's richest, most powerful, and most ruthless people." "A hero to the poor and dispossessed, Pan is like a bone in the throats of the beautiful, sophisticated "good" people who own and control every facet of Thailand and want more. There are many who would prefer that a book, especially a sympathetic book, stay unwritten. And there are others who want to expose Pan's darker secrets, information useful in a preemptive strike against this profligate billionaire who can threaten their hold on power - a situation they will go to murderous lengths to prevent." "Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, Rafferty is breathing water and sinking deeper in a sea of intrigue with each passing hour. The trouble multiplies when a missing young street friend of Miaow's reappears, needing Rafferty's help to protect an innocent village girl trapped in a baby-selling ring. Pushed ever closer to the abyss, Rafferty has one chance to get them all out alive. But to succeed, this foreigner must do the impossible - keep a cool Thaiheart." Set in the Thailand of today's headlines - a nation of unrest, political uncertainty, corruption, and tradition, where the future looks dangerously precarious - Breathing Water is the story of a deadly game in which the stakes are enormous and life is literally cheap.

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Editorial Reviews

bloggernews.net/122019
“This is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. The mystery, danger, and intrigue satisfy the lover of mystery and thriller, while the relationships give the story depth. Especially nice is the relationship between Rafferty and Arthit, one of the few honest cops in Bangkok.”
booksnbytes.com
“Hallinan has outdone himself with Breathing Water. The previous Bangkok Thrillers are outstanding books but Breathing Water is even better . . . Breathing Water keeps the reader on edge until the very satisfying conclusion.”
Publishers Weekly

In Hallinan's nicely paced third Bangkok thriller to feature writer Poke Rafferty (after The Fourth Water), Poke wins a bet to write the biography of Khun Pan, a major-league bad guy, after a dispute with Pan in a poker game. When local papers run big stories about the deal, a phone caller threatens Poke, his wife and his daughter if he goes ahead with the project. Soon afterward, Poke is forced into a car by gun-wielding men who demand he write the book, but based on interviews with people on a set list. Poke's efforts to keep himself alive amid competing interests move the plot along.A His sangfroid in the face of serious peril, reminiscent of Cary Grant's in North by Northwest, may strike some readers as out of place in a book that opens with a heartrending scene of a thug instructing a reluctant girl how to become a professional beggar by pinching an infant to make it cry to gain more sympathy. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Half Filipino, half-American travel writer and unlikely action hero Poke Rafferty (The Fourth Watcher, 2008, etc.) once again gives in to his penchant for finding trouble on the streets of Bangkok. Poke has it all: A smart, stunning Thai wife named Rose, an adopted daughter, Miaow, and a thriving career as an author and journalist. But Rose is no ordinary wife, having escaped the sleazy bar scene with Poke's help and encouragement, and Miaow once cruised the streets as part of a gang of homeless kids. Now both are firmly family, but Poke's tendency to keep digging in places he probably shouldn't puts both his and their lives in jeopardy. His latest problem starts with a less-than-ordinary poker game involving his police friend Arthit and a legendary billionaire named Pan. Once a small-time thug, Pan used his considerable skills to turn himself into a tycoon. But Pan's past is a source of both mystery and speculation, and writing Pan's biography is the Holy Grail of Thai writers. Although past scribes who attempted this literary coup failed to deliver, Poke has an inside track: Pan agrees to cooperate with him, although the mighty man's cooperation doesn't come willingly. Soon Poke discovers that having Pan's permission to delve into his underworld dealings doesn't mean smooth sailing-in fact, just the opposite. There are also powerful people determined to stop Roke, even if that means killing his entire family and anyone who helps him. As Poke tries desperately to sort the bad guys from the good, a young friend from his past resurfaces, and Arthit deals with a personal tragedy that could destroy him. Hallinan's prose will engage readers, but first they'll need to overlook such small bitsof silliness in the plot as a pig sty in an expensive mansion. Never lags for intrigue as it interweaves the lives of Thai street children with a tale of political power gone bad. Author appearances in Los Angeles
Larry Beinhart
“The best thriller of the year. Smart, fast, exotic.”
Jen's Book Thoughts
“If you have not yet discovered the Poke Rafferty/Bangkok Thriller series, it’s time to put on a wetsuit and start Breathing Water. A rich, multi-leveled, intelligent thriller series that will tickle you to laugh, challenge you to think, and buckle you in for an adventurous ride through Bangkok.”
BookPage (September Mystery of the Month)
“BREATHING WATER is action-packed and steamily atmospheric, and as cleverly plotted a mystery as you are likely to read this year.”
Schuler Books Blog
“[A] searing beauty of a book. A compelling tale of a quiet hero just trying to get by in the best worst city in the world. If you like exotic thrillers that are as full of heart as they are twists and reverses, you should check it out.”
booksnbytes.com (5 stars)
“Hallinan has outdone himself with Breathing Water. The previous Bangkok Thrillers are outstanding books but Breathing Water is even better . . . Breathing Water keeps the reader on edge until the very satisfying conclusion.”
thenovelblog.com
“Hallinan has crafted a fast-paced, high-energy thriller that grabs you from the very first moment and doesn’t let up . . . . Breathing Water is indeed the best crime fiction I’ve read, not only this year, but in the past ten. ”
TheGenreReview.com
“Breathing Water is the best contemporary crime fiction I’ve read in a long time. I plan on going out immediately and buying all of Hallinan’s other books.”
perfecttext.com
“Captures the essence of life in Bangkok and delivers all the mystery, intrigue and breathtaking excitement one comes to expect from the Poke Rafferty series of superb crime thriller novels. With this one, author Hallinan is at the top of his game. ”
Booklist
“The dialogue crackles, the sense of one of the world’s edgiest cities is sharp, and the plight of the poor, especially the children, is moving.”
Sunday Denver Post
“Hallinan is a born storyteller, layering plot upon plot and twist upon turn, and, as a bonus, he’s a superb stylist whose assured prose continually delights and surprises the reader....A thriller with a heart that’s easily one of the best books of the year.”
reviewingtheevidence.com
“The book is extraordinary, magnificent, exceptional, heart-shaking, heart-breaking, brilliant. As I read this book, I laughed, I cried, I gasped-but I never, ever yawned. BREATHING WATER is a great book. ”
Cambodia Daily
“Fast-paced...Beautifully written, with vivid descriptions.”
San Jose Mercury News
“The latest entry in the compelling “Bangkok Thriller” series. I love this series because the Bangkok setting offers a platform for Hallinan to explore social and ethical conventions. (With) a strong theme supporting love, family and loyalty while challenging our Western preconceptions of what those things should really mean.”
gumshoereview.com
“BREATHING WATER is as brilliant a piece of crime fiction as I’ve had the pleasure of reading, from the clean prose of the author to Poke Rafferty’s noir humor, and the richness of the Thai landscape.”
newmysteryreader.com
“A Nail Through the Heart was a revelation, yet The Fourth Watcher was a leap forward. Breathing Water takes another step. It’s a book you’d be sorry to finish if you weren’t so emotionally exhausted by the end. Look for it on award lists at the end of the year.”
mysteriousreviews.com
“The thrill in reading Breathing Water comes from the subtle but relentless escalation of tension in the story. . . . The poignant conclusion will no doubt bring a tear or two to one’s eyes. A remarkable and unusual novel and may be Hallinan’s best to date. ”
Steve Martini
“Cleverly crafted, masterfully written, characters and dialogue rooted in reality, BREATHING WATER offers fascinating insights into the dark side of crime in another culture. Written with the authority of one who knows life on the hard edge in southeast Asia. Another wonderful read from an author who knows his business.”
Andrew Gross
“BREATHING WATER crackles with the intrigue and danger of the streets and sanctums of modern-day Bangkok. Like a twenty-first century Maltese Falcon laced with Bangkok 8.”
Adrian McKinty
“Another masterpiece of contemporary crime fiction. Hallinan takes us on a thrilling Tuk Tuk ride into a city seemingly always on the verge of chaos that somehow always manages to hold together-if you like tautly plotted, intelligent crime fiction do yourself a favor and jump on board.”
Brett Battles
“BREATHING WATER is a stunning, beautiful, and gripping thriller. Hallinanweaves together an engrossing story with prose that jump off the page, andmakes you feel like you are actually there. No question, this is one of thebest books of the year.”
James Church
“Humor and horror expertly play off one another in a rapid-fire story of political intrigue and murder. The plot is skillfully tangled and the sense of menace refreshingly relentless. Top form writing set in Bangkok, a great place for action and a backdrop Hallinan uses to superb advantage.”
Dick Adler
“A terrific thriller . . . Last year’s The Fourth Watcher was [Hallinan’s] best yet -- but his new one, Breathing Water, tops it. Hallinan’s books are more ferocious than [John] Burdett’s, and he excels at creating truly frightening villains.”
/122019 - www.bloggernews.net
"This is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. The mystery, danger, and intrigue satisfy the lover of mystery and thriller, while the relationships give the story depth. Especially nice is the relationship between Rafferty and Arthit, one of the few honest cops in Bangkok."
(5 stars) - www.booksnbytes.com
"Hallinan has outdone himself with Breathing Water. The previous Bangkok Thrillers are outstanding books but Breathing Water is even better . . . Breathing Water keeps the reader on edge until the very satisfying conclusion."
(September Mystery of the Month) - BookPage
"BREATHING WATER is action-packed and steamily atmospheric, and as cleverly plotted a mystery as you are likely to read this year."
www.gumshoereview.com
“BREATHING WATER is as brilliant a piece of crime fiction as I’ve had the pleasure of reading, from the clean prose of the author to Poke Rafferty’s noir humor, and the richness of the Thai landscape.”
www.thenovelblog.com
“Hallinan has crafted a fast-paced, high-energy thriller that grabs you from the very first moment and doesn’t let up . . . . Breathing Water is indeed the best crime fiction I’ve read, not only this year, but in the past ten. ”
www.reviewingtheevidence.com
“The book is extraordinary, magnificent, exceptional, heart-shaking, heart-breaking, brilliant. As I read this book, I laughed, I cried, I gasped-but I never, ever yawned. BREATHING WATER is a great book. ”
www.bloggernews.net/122019
“This is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. The mystery, danger, and intrigue satisfy the lover of mystery and thriller, while the relationships give the story depth. Especially nice is the relationship between Rafferty and Arthit, one of the few honest cops in Bangkok.”
www.perfecttext.com
“Captures the essence of life in Bangkok and delivers all the mystery, intrigue and breathtaking excitement one comes to expect from the Poke Rafferty series of superb crime thriller novels. With this one, author Hallinan is at the top of his game. ”
www.mysteriousreviews.com
“The thrill in reading Breathing Water comes from the subtle but relentless escalation of tension in the story. . . . The poignant conclusion will no doubt bring a tear or two to one’s eyes. A remarkable and unusual novel and may be Hallinan’s best to date. ”
www.booksnbytes.com (5 stars)
“Hallinan has outdone himself with Breathing Water. The previous Bangkok Thrillers are outstanding books but Breathing Water is even better . . . Breathing Water keeps the reader on edge until the very satisfying conclusion.”
www.newmysteryreader.com
“A Nail Through the Heart was a revelation, yet The Fourth Watcher was a leap forward. Breathing Water takes another step. It’s a book you’d be sorry to finish if you weren’t so emotionally exhausted by the end. Look for it on award lists at the end of the year.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
I used to think that John Burdett's terrific books (Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts) about Royal Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the only practicing Buddhist on the police force, were all I needed to know about the darker, sadder side of that popular tourist site. Then I began to read Hallinan's books about American travel writer Poke Rafferty, who lives in Bangkok with his Thai wife, Rose, and their adopted daughter, who calls herself Miaow. Last year's The Fourth Watcher was his best yet -- but his new one, Breathing Water, tops it. Hallinan's books are more ferocious than Burdett's, and he excels at creating truly frightening villains -- in this case, a gross but oddly touching multimillionaire, Khun Pan, the richest man in Thailand. The book begins with a high-stakes poker game, set up as a sting by Poke's cop friend, Arthit, against a couple of rich cheaters. But nobody is expecting the Big Guy (as Pan is called) to show up. "The three millionaires don't look alike, but they share the glaze that money brings, a sheen as thin and golden as the melted sugar on a doughnut," Rafferty says. Poke beats Pan badly and wins as a prize the chance to write the multimillionaire's much-sought-after biography. But many of Pan's rivals don't want the book to come out at all, especially just before an upcoming election. On the other side are rivals who want to expose Pan's darker secrets. Rafferty is in a very dangerous position. As Arthit says, "If it would clarify your situation to think about it visually, then imagine this: You're at the bottom of the Chao Phyra, wandering around on the riverbed without a map, and breathing water." --Dick Adler
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061672231
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/18/2009
  • Series: Poke Rafferty Series , #3
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy Hallinan is the author of nine widely praised books: eight novels—including the Bangkok thrillers featuring Poke Rafferty—and a work of nonfiction. Along with his wife, Munyin Choy, he divides his time equally between Los Angeles, California, and Southeast Asia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Breathing Bangkok

    Timothy Hallinan's 3d "Poke Rafferty" novel cements his place as a prominent author of tales of Bangkok. Hallinan's Bangkok may not be the one that the tourist, or anybody, for that matter, sees, but it is a riveting place for a good drama. With Thai supporting characters showing love and heart, the book will take you on a long tale about crime and power thriving on poverty. Hallinan joins John Burdett as must-read authors for fans of Bangkok.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 8, 2009

    Breathing Water grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go

    Breathing Water was my first experience with author Tim Hallinan. The book grabbed me by the throat and didn't let up until the last page.
    From the time a newborn is handed over like an unimportant package to a young girl as a "prop" to help her beg from tourists in the street until the very satisfying conclusion of the book, Mr. Hallinan weaves a multi-textured tapestry that delights all the senses. I was drawn into the world of his amazingly layered characters and you will be as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    Loved it!

    So many twists and turns, you'll get dizzy.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Hallinan book I couldn't put down

    BREATHING WATER is the third book in Timothy Hallinan's Poke Rafferty series set in Bangkok. In the book, Bangkok is as much a character in the story as it is the setting of it. In the first eight pages, the author brings to life the worst sins of Thailand, the sexual exploitation of children as well as the kidnapping of infants for sale to Americans and Europeans, desperate for what they have been denied. In the first eight pages, Hallinan grabs the reader and doesn't let go even when the story ends.

    After a rigged poker game goes wrong, Poke Rafferty finds himself committed to writing the biography of Khun Pan, a fabulously rich and powerful self-made man from Issan, the most desperately poor region of Thailand. Poke's wife, Rose, is also from Isaan and to her, Pan is a hero because he has grabbed power from the people who have held it for generations. To others, Pan is an object of hate and fear and the biography has the potential to destroy more than a few lives and luxuries.

    Pan wants Poke to write a book about his life as he, the subject, sees it. But Poke is threatened immediately by people who want the biography written their way and by people who don't want it written at all. Soon Rose and their daughter, Miaow, are threatened and Poke has to find a way to protect the people he loves.

    Hallinan writes thrillers and the Bangkok series does not disappoint on that score. Hallinan also writes stories that tell about the best and the worst in human beings and about the human capacity to rise above the experiences that could destroy them. The Bangkok series doesn't disappoint on that score, either. Poke and Arthit, his closest friend and a high-ranking police officer, are decent men who want nothing more in their lives than to love their families and protect their friends from whatever might threaten them. They never fail at the first and, sometimes, the ability to do the second is taken out of their control.

    Poke is caught between opposing forces who will destroy his family if he doesn't follow their conflicting demands. Arthit tells Poke he is "...wandering around on the riverbed without a map, and breathing water. You just haven't realized it yet." There is a subtle difference between "breathing under water" and "breathing water". People have been breathing under water since they first put a hollow reed in their mouths and let the top rise just above the water line. But breathing water is impossible. When it happens when we forget to keep our mouths closed when we dive, our physical selves go into panic mode, driving us to get to the air so we can save our own lives. Forced into BREATHING WATER, Poke rises above the fear and is driven to save himself so he can save the people he loves and the people who need him.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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