A Nail Through the Heart
Review: Timothy Hallinan introduces travel writer and sometime investigator Poke Rafferty, a man living on the edge but looking for stability in his life in Bangkok, in A Nail Through the Heart.
Rafferty is hired by the niece of an Australian man who has disappeared from his home in Bangkok. The man's live-in housekeeper, who has also disappeared, used to work for a wealthy woman who is feared by the police and public alike. While visiting the woman during the course of his investigation, she changes the subject and suddenly offers him a large sum of money to find a man who recently stole something from her. Rafferty needs the cash: he's in the process of adopting a little girl and the money will go a long ways towards paying for her schooling. But then Rafferty learns that these two missing person investigations are related, and he's drawn into a world of evil that not only threatens his life, but that of the family he loves.
Hallinan deftly handles the horrifying aspects of his story, torture by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s and modern-day child pornography, by relating how Rafferty feels and reacts while minimizing explicit details. At times, A Nail Through the Heart is exceedingly difficult to read, not for the lack of well-written prose, but for its subject matter. The intertwining investigations are sufficiently complicated to keep the reader's attention without being overly complex. There are a few points that don't ring quite true, (why, for example, did the old woman keep something that could expose her past in a safe buried in her lawn when she could have destroyed the contents years earlier, or if she wouldn't destroy it, why not keep it in a more secure location in her house?), but they don't interfere with the overall story. The conclusion of the book is surprisingly pragmatic and somewhat open-ended.
A Nail Through the Heart is a terrific opening chapter to this new series, one that has the potential to captivate readers for a long time to come.
Acknowledgment: FSB Associates provided a copy of A Nail Through the Heart for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
William Morrow (Hardcover), August 2009
ISBN-13: 9780061672231; ISBN-10: 0061672238
Location(s) referenced in A Nail Through the Heart: Bangkok, Thailand
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A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan — A Poke Rafferty Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 2007
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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