No Smirkus from Kirkus

June 7th, 2010

Kirkus Reviews is the trade publication known for being somewhat sparing with praise and, occasionally, for running reviews that are absolutely scathing.  So it’s with a light heart and a certain amount of relief that I announce that the Kirkus review of THE QUEEN OF PATPONG is an out-and-out RAVE, complete with star.A star, in addition to being a token of enthusiasm for the book, also means that the reviewer gets more space for his/her review, and this one is a beauty.  He/she even liked the stuff about Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” which I really put in for myself.


Author: Hallinan, Timothy

Review Date: June 15, 2010
Pages: 320
Price ( Hardback ): $24.99
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
ISBN ( Hardback ): 978-0-06-167226-2
Category: Fiction
Classification: Suspense/Thriller

star is assigned to books of unusual merit, determined by the editors of Kirkus Reviews.

Hallinan (Breathing Water, 2009, etc.) takes his Poke Rafferty series to the next level with this taut, offbeat and fast-moving thriller that focuses on Bangkok’s red-light district and sex trade.

Travel writer Poke has finally persuaded his live-in love Rose, a statuesque former bar girl in Bangkok’s Patpong district, to marry him. The couple and their adopted daughter Miaow are happy. Miaow, a former street urchin, is doing well in school and preparing for her part in an upcoming version of The Tempest; Rose’s cleaning service, which hires former bar workers, is successful; and Poke’s latest book is doing well. But as anyone familiar with Hallinan’s previous entries in this series knows, that much serendipity means Poke’s trouble meter is running. This time the trouble centers around Rose, who finds her past flooding back to haunt her in the worst possible form—a man she thought was dead pops up with the clear intention of not only disrupting her life, but taking it, along with the lives of the other people who matter to her. Poke is well aware of Rose’s past—he met her in a bar—but he had no clue as to what she endured at the hands of this man, or the detailed story of her journey from village girl to prostitute. In the second part of the novel, Rose poignantly tells her story, and this is where Hallinan’s writing really shines: Readers can feel the grime and poverty of village life, smell the streets of Bangkok, taste the fear when Rose—previously known as “Kwan”—fights for her life in her own, private version of The Tempest. Stalked by a resourceful killer dedicated to wiping out his family, Poke and his loyal and incorruptible friend, police officer Arthit, still mourning the loss of his wife, put together a plan to bring the hunter into the kill zone, hoping they can end the nightmare that began years ago in a Bangkok club.

Hallinan’s unlikely hero shines in this sometimes funny, always engrossing and undeniably authentic story that explores a dark and fascinating side of Thailand.

In all, a really excellent way to start the week.

12 Responses to “No Smirkus from Kirkus”

  1. Glenn W. Says:


    I’m delighted for you that your newest Poke novel has wound its way out of the labyrinthine maze of your own hard work, through the editorial, and publication processes into the light of day. Bravo and hearty kudos to you!!
    I’ve deeply appreciated the last several months of “Pantser vs. Ploder” series. Helpful, instructive, encouraging, fun; by far, mile better than any three day $1000.00 writer’s conference. You’ve done us all a great service.

  2. Loren Eaton Says:

    Adding it to the reading list …

  3. Suzanna Says:

    Thrilled for you Tim. You deserve every accolade this review has bestowed on you: BIG GIANT RED STAR, and all the magnificent praise that is sure to follow this wonderful review. Congratulations!

  4. Usman Says:

    Hope, it becomes a bestseller, and then I can buy it in Pakistan.

  5. Bill Crider Says:

    Congrats! I’m reading A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART at the moment.

  6. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Him everybody, and thanks for all the niceness.

    GLENN — Happy you enjoyed the “Plotting VS Pantsing” thread — me, too. And BILL proved himself the most unregenerate pantser of them all.

    LOREN — QUEEN will come out on August 17 although it’s up on Amazon right now. Hope you like it.

    SUZANNA — Stars are hard to get from the trades and in the end they don’t really mean much for sales, but it’s tremendously rewarding to get them, especially when you have doubts about a book, as I did with this one.

    USMAN — You and me both. Maybe I could come to Pakistan and you could take me into a bookstore and show it to me. I’ll never forget how juked I was the first time I saw one of my books for sale in Thailand.

    BILL — If you like it, please e-mail me to tell me so. If you hate it, well, silence is golden.

  7. Philip Coggan Says:

    Congratulations Tim on the great review. It’s interesting that the reviewer was so taken with the section in which Rose starred alone. She and Peachy always intrigued me.

  8. Paul D. Brazill Says:


    That’s a tasty review!

  9. Annelie Says:

    Congratulations! on receiving such a brilliant review.

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks again — to Philip, who’s writing a novel about Cambodia, to Paul, who writes terrific dark short stories, and to Annelie, who leaves a very sweet note.

  11. J. Edward Tremlett Says:

    *thumbs up* well done, my friend. congratulations on a well-deserved ovation from a tough room.

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Jim —

    Your review is pretty high up on the list of “bests” for QUEEN.

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