Last One. Maybe.

July 4th, 2008

This is probably the best review of any book I’ve ever written. It’s from New Mystery Reader, and it was written by Dana King, who leaves comments on this site from time to time.  The reviews of THE FOURTH WATCHER have been uniformly excellent thus far, but this is the one that means the most to me because Dana read, and reacted to, the book I wanted to write, a book about love that happens to be a thriller.

The review is here.

There’s also an interview with me on the site, for those of you who have some lingering shreds of curiosity after that meme.

Thanks to Dana King and everyone at  Which, by the way, is a killer site.

10 Responses to “Last One. Maybe.”

  1. Lisa Kenney Says:

    What a fantastic review. It’s so nice to be able to read a review done by someone who a. knows how to write a proper review and b. can draw some comparisons between your work and other crime fiction. One of the frustrations I have about describing your work is that since I don’t read crime fiction, it’s difficult for me to articulate why yours appeals to me so much. Dana King keyed in on one aspect of both Poke Rafferty books that I couldn’t put my finger on. She’s pointed out that love, not romance or sex is the underlying force that drives most of the characters (well, the ones we like anyway). The other aspect of your work that was very clear to me in both books is that you have an almost magical gift for insinuating unspeakable acts, without directly describing them. Most writers either can’t do that or don’t bother trying. The interview is just terrific and shows what a real pro can do. Gulp.

    On a separate note, there is an award for you at my place.

  2. John Lindquist Says:

    “The Fourth Watcher” is a killer book. Finished it last night, and I so agree with the reviewer. The present-tense writing with “[so-and-so] says” really puts this reader into the flow of things more so than stories that put the action and dialog in the past tense. There is a “Dickensian” thread woven through the domestic scenes that is much appreciated. I almost expected “Bless us every one” at the very end. Great book. Will wait eagerly for no. 3.

  3. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Lisa — Thanks for all the kind words. I appreciate them, and I especially appreciate the line about “insinuating” unspeakable acts without actually describing them. I did enough of that when I was writing those hack books, where it was actually required by contract. No more, thanks. Also, I think that a detailed and vivid description of something dreadful breaks the deal I have with the reader — I’m going to take you someplace new, and it’s not all going to be pretty, but you’re not going to need one of those airline barf bags. As a reader, I wouldn’t like me if I violated that deal.

    John — I’m so happy you liked it, and am knocked out by the reference to Dickens, whose spirit is very much alive in the beggars’ sections of the next one, MISDIRECTION. Thanks also for speaking up in defense of the present tense, which has caused some people trouble. Like they don’t lead their own lives in the present tense?

    More reviews, all good, in the last 48 hours. Now all we need is for people to buy it.

    Speaking of which, if either or both of you would review it on Amazon, that would help the cause.

    And finally, Lisa, thank you for my award. I’m not displaying it because it didn’t come to me from the original source, but everybody can look at it on your site. (And MOLTO congratulations for winning it. You deserve that and more.)

  4. Lisa Kenney Says:

    I will absolutely do that! I should post more Amazon reviews of books I like and it’s a little dumb of me that I don’t. I’m always self-conscious about trying to write reviews because I’m not very good at writing them, but I need to remember that a good review is preferable to no review at all. It’s Amazon, not the New York Times Sunday Book Review and I’m not trying to be Lionel Trilling 🙂

  5. Mitch Says:

    Great to hear that your book is getting rave reviews Tim. It’s next on my reading list, after I get through Stephen King’s Duma Key. It’ll be a nice transition, from businessman-turned-haunted-artist horror novel to love-driven Asian thriller. I’ve always enjoyed variety in my reading! Although I have to say that King’s books are almost always way too long, but I guess it gives him time to really drive the characters home. It also gives the reader time to drift off into la-la land, and I can’t help but think that the length of his books are luxuries of his fame. If I tried to write a 600 page book, I’m sure an editor would make short work of it. What’s your take Tim?

  6. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Mitch, and thanks. Hope you like WATCHER when you leave KingWorld behind. There are writers I’d much rather follow than Stephen King — he’s too good to make me comfortable about being next on your list.

    About length, it depends on two things. First, if you’re Stephen King or any of half a dozen other writers, you could turn in a novel longer than the Bible and it would be accepted with a smile. For the rest of us, it’s worth keeping in mind that longer novels cost more to produce and ship, and that the publishing industry believes, with some justice, that really thick books are daunting to shoppers.

    Still, when an extraordinary 600-pager turns up, it often gets published. John Gregory Roberts’ “Shantaram” comes to mind, as do Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy” and (coming out right now) David Roblewski’s “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.”

    If your book absolutely has to be that long, write it — but make it sensationally good.

  7. Larissa Says:

    I like the interview too! The review is really great and really true. I’m going to run out and buy copies of your books as soon as I get the chance..I attempted to do at Border’s the other day but they don’t sell them. I was sad. I don’t know what dictates what stores sell what so that may sound naiive but whatever. They should sell you instead some of the other stuff I see hit press. Egads. I can get them off of Amazon obviously, and will, so yeah. Congratulations. (c:

  8. usman Says:

    Hi Tim,
    Went to another bookstore in Islamabad and kept looking for your name. I hope this makes the NYT and then I can get it.
    I simply loved the examples Dana gave esp the ‘half a dozen emotions…across the face…”

  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Usman —

    You and me both. I’d be happy to be on the best-seller list for Walton’s Mountain, which would probably take as many as four or five copies sold. I agree that Dana picked some of the best lines. The funny thing is that those are never what I remember having written because they come so easily. What I remember having written, mostly, is dialog and occasional descriptive narrative — there was a line in A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART about the sky being “low enough to scrape a nail against, that peculiar sullen gray that usually precedes one of Bangkok’s frequent rainstorms.” That I remember writing.

    Larissa — First, thanks for being so nice about the interview. Dana asked very good questions. Second, whether a chain stocks a book is largely a matter of what its expected sales are, and NAIL, for all that it had great reviews, didn’t set any records. It’s in Barnes & Noble, though, and (of course) on Amazon. And I really hope you enjoy them.

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