Reason to Keep Writing

July 7th, 2009

Here’s an absolutely terrific review of BREATHING WATER.  It comes  from James Tremlett, who works for Schuler Books, a major chain in (mainly) the Great Lakes area.

You can either find it at the Schuler Books blog at or just lower your eyes and read it right here:


Bangkok-based writer Poke Rafferty is in deep again. A botched bit of research for his latest book lands him a golden opportunity – the chance to write the exclusive biography of Thailand’s most outrageous, yet beloved gangster. But no sooner does he get that opportunity than two competing groups of thugs start threatening him and his family. One will kill them if he writes the book, but the other will kill them if he doesn’t.

What’s a travel writer to do? Fortunately, Poke is not without friends, or the ability to concoct a cunning – if questionable – plan, given time. But those who want the book written are demanding progress updates, and both sides are keeping him under heavy surveillance. Meanwhile, his allies in the Bangkok police have serious problems of their own…

Outmaneuvered and outgunned, Poke will have to find the third way, yet again. Calling  on old friends and new opportunities, he navigates a steaming river of inconvenient secrets and competing agendas by the seat of his pants — not always one stride ahead of his enemies, but definitely at least one step to their left as our favorite travel writer strives to get home safely once more.

Fans of Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty books (A Nail Through the Heart and The Fourth Watcher) will find Breathing Water to be as exotic and suffocatingly suspenseful as its predecessors, deftly balancing the ugly side of Thailand with humor and hope. As always, the basic decency of Poke and his friends shines through, turning what could be just another stacked-odds thriller into a compelling tale of a quiet hero just trying to get by in the best worst city in the world.

Timothy Hallinan has delivered another searing beauty of a book. If you like exotic thrillers that are as full of heart as they are twists and reverses, you should check it out.

Breathing Water drops August 18th.

– Reviewed by Jim Tremlett, Eastwood

I love this review, and not just because Jim liked the book so much — I love the way it’s written –‘ not always one stride ahead of his enemies, but definitely at least one step to their left,” “suffocatingly suspenseful,” “the best worst city in the world.”

Another review that just appeared online, had this line that I love:  “. . . like all good noir-protagonists, Poke is firmly on shaky moral ground at any given moment.”  Firmly on shaky moral ground sums it up precisely.

I’m hanging onto these reviews so I can look at them next time I ask myself why I bother to work so hard when I write and then go back and work so hard to make it look like I’m not working so hard.

Anyway, thanks.

13 Responses to “Reason to Keep Writing”

  1. Merrilee Faber Says:

    Congrats Tim! Good reviews must be a lovely boost after all that hard work.

  2. Jen Forbus Says:

    Very well deserved!!

  3. suzanna Says:


    Isn’t it ironic that writing requires that you work so hard so that your readers can more easily enjoy your hard work? You’re terrific. Don’t ever forget that.

  4. Ken H. Says:

    Congrats Tim. Can’t wait to read it!

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, everybody. It’s impossible to overstate how rewarding it is when someone likes a book I wrote. It really is a reason to keep at it, even when writing feels more like trying to tunnel through a mountain of granite using nothing but my forehead.

    And these reactions mean even more than those of some of the professional reviewers, for whom each book is just another item on the pile, to be processed and billed for as quickly as possible. The original idea of reading and writing — that it’s a partnership between the reader and the writer — is forgotten. The book becomes piecework. Gotta get in the synopsis, gotta say something clever, gotta finish up in one or two graphs.

  6. Rachel Brady Says:

    Always glad to read something nice like this. Well done, and congrats. 🙂

  7. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Rachel. Glad you stopped by.

    By the way, Rachel has a really good site about her personal writing experiences at

  8. Usman Says:

    Hi Tim,
    Late as always, I am. But hey, that was was a terrific review; not just for the praise, but the way it was written.
    Now don’t let it go to your head, you still have mountains to grind with the same 🙂

  9. Rachel Brady Says:

    Thank you, Tim. When I found your comments waiting on my blog, I got all excited. It was like Elvis stopped by! 🙂 Are you wearing sequins?

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Usman — Always glad to hear from my most distant correspondent. I can’t believe we missed each other in Bangkok.

    Rachel, I really like your site — I’ve been back and browsed around a couple od times, and you’re absolutely bookmarked.

  11. Rachel Brady Says:

    Awesome! I’m stoked. I actually just responded to your last comment over there, then bounced over here to catch up.

    Is it possible to have entire conversations across multiple blogs?

  12. Usman Says:

    Hi Tim,
    I’m sure we’ll catch up here or there.
    The Bangkok miss has been eating at me too.

  13. Larissa Says:

    Hey there Tim. Glad to hear that everyone likes the book (c: I will have to get my hands on it once they stop moving with all the other stuff I’ve got goin’ on. Just wanted to drop in a say hi.

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