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This is the fifth novel in the Poke Rafferty series. Frankly, I didn't think he could top the Queen of Patpong, Wisely, he hasn't tried to do that. Queen was a love story to Rose, in addition to being many other things. Here, Rose and Miaow are exiled, almost to the point of disappearing. What Hallinan does do, however, is brilliant. Poke's half-sister, Ming Li, who had a vivid role in a prior book, is brought forward as a major character in this one. Hallinan writes women so well that, even though we miss Rose and Miaow almost viscerally, Ming Li is so compelling that she almost fills the void. The story is typical Hallinan Bangkok, with Poke running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to stay alive. The CIA and the Phoenix Program from Viet Nam and the US Embassy and a villainous Major Shen and a horrendously dangerous mass murderer from Viet Nam, an American named Murphy, a flock of old spooks who desperately try to keep their old lifestyle alive: all these and more, much more. Poke's friend Arthit appears in a heart-breaking role, and we find ourselves still mourning the loss of Nui, his dead wife. Once again we get Bangkok in all its lurid splendor. Once again Victor Bevine does a marvelous job of bringing this masterful work of creativity to us lucky Audible listeners. I hope Tim Hallinan has a string of these in his remarkable mind, ready to write, because I could listen to his stuff for just about ever.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
I admit to being a fan of this series and put down everything else I was reading in order to listen to this book. I was not disappointed. The Fear Artist is a worthy sequel to The Queen of Patpong, one of my all-time favourites. The book opens with an accidental encounter on a street in Bangkok - guns, paint, cameras, and police acting more brutal than usual - and Poke Rafferty somehow ends up on the run. Rose and Miaow are out of town for most of the book and I missed them. This being said, the story is more believable for their absence. This is a problem Poke must solve without his Thai family. Even the stalwart Ardit is sidelined - recovering from the death of his beloved wife, he is not his usual insightful, wry self. Mr. Hallinan continues to explore the themes of family, nature and nurture, as well as the impact of "others" on South East Asia. In so doing, he creates a credible, often heart-breaking story, that completely absorbed my attention until the end. Victor Bevine is wonderful and I can't imagine anyone else narrating this book.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful