Mystery of the Month?

June 22nd, 2008

That’s what critic Bruce Tierney calls THE FOURTH WATCHER in the July edition of Bookpage. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bookpage, it’s “a monthly book review publication distributed to more than 400,000 readers through subscribing libraries and bookstores . . . Our goal is to recommend the best books for readers of all types.”

I’m almost embarrassed (but only almost) to post the review here because it’s so amazingly positive.  I can hear my mother telling me that no one likes a show-off, something she said to me many thousand times, and with good cause.  Well, sorry, Mom.

Anyway, here’s what Tierney had to say:

OK, call me a sucker for thrillers set in exotic foreign locations, particularly ones with rampant corruption, triple-digit humidity and lazily seductive ex-bargirl protagonists. Guilty as charged; please let me serve out my sentence in the Thailand depicted by author Timothy Hallinan in his wickedly atmospheric new work, The Fourth Watcher (Morrow, $24.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9780061257254), this month’s Tip of the Ice Pick Award winner.

Travel writer Poke Rafferty has a clever and popular series going for him: Looking for Trouble In . . . (fill in the blank with the exotic Asian locale of your choice). His latest installment about Bangkok is in the works, after which he is thinking seriously about settling down into a line of work a bit less edgy and dangerous, to allow him to spend more time with his girlfriend and their recently adopted daughter (a precocious 10-going-on-30-year-old named Miaow). However, although Poke may no longer be “looking for trouble,” trouble is definitely looking for him when his long-estranged father shows up unannounced, with a box full of rubies and a very large favor to ask. Poke initially wants nothing to do with his old man, but that decision is quickly taken out of his hands: his girlfriend and daughter are kidnapped, along with the wife of his best friend. If Poke ever wants to see them again, he will have to come up with the rubies (and a whack of cash) and turn his father over to a sworn enemy who has been tracking Rafferty Senior without success for a number of years.

Well, that’s the setup, but it doesn’t begin to describe the action, the intensity, the pacing, the humor, the dialogue, etc. What words are sufficient to describe a book with chapters titled“Ugliest Mole in China,”“Asterisks Would Take Too Long,” or my personal fave, “The Leading Sphincter on the Planet”? Is it enough to call someone a clever wordsmith when they can craft a sentence like, “He was unevolved; he had one foot in the Mesozoic and the other in his mouth.”? So I ask you, after reading this review, can you think of one good reason not to read this book? I can’t.

Geez.  Thanks, Bruce.

10 Responses to “Mystery of the Month?”

  1. Andrea Mitchell Says:

    Wow, it’s a rave! Congratulations.

  2. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Andrea. With a few more like this, we might actually sell some books.

  3. Larissa Says:

    hey, maybe i’ve been too out of the loop lately, but last I heard you had taken a writing break. how’s that going so far? any further progress? Just curious. Great to read such a wonderful review. You rock. (c:

  4. usman Says:

    Great stuff. Was in BKK last week and looked for your books at the airport. Perhaps I’ll get to buy this one next time I’m there. Hopefully in the BestSellers section.

  5. fairyhedgehog Says:

    What a brilliant review! I love the “wickedly atmospheric”.

  6. Dana King Says:

    I just finished a review that should appear in New Mystery Reader this week, and concur on all counts. There is absolutely no reason not to read this book.

  7. bets Says:

    Now I’m really super excited to get it!

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    God, you guys are so nice. I should try to be that nice.

    Larissa — The new book started coming in ten-foot bolts about four days before I had to leave Asia, so I got as much down as I could, and tomorrow I’m going back to it. I’ve firmly decided that it’ll either be the best thing I’ve ever written, or it wont. But it WILL get written.

    Usman — The paperback of NAIL will be available in Bangkok, but I don’t know if it’ll make it into the airport shops. There’s a certain amount of under-the-table baksheesh involved, and I don’t know whether the local distributor will be up for it.

    , thanks — that phrase got me, too. It’s something I work hard on — to make the setting and the atmosphere part of the story’s fabric — and it’s always spiffy when someone picks up on it.

    Dana — THIS IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. I WANT TO READ IT NOW, I WANT TO READ IT NOW, I WANT . . . hold it. what I mean, of course, is that I’m delighted you liked it and I am rabidly looking forward to reading the review.

    Bets — the copies are going off today, and I hope it’s not a letdown when you finally read it.

  9. Steve Says:

    Kudos to you on a job well done.

    – Steve Pantazis, a fellow mystery writer

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Steve, I appreciate it from a fellow slogger in the trenches.

    Your site is great-looking, and it’s inspirational to come across another writer who has several projects going simultaneously. And in different genres, too. (If only I had the nerve, I’d write a YA novel.)

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