A Novel of Bangkok
I was so enthralled with the first book in this series (which I found at the dollar store!) that I spent "real money" to pick up the next volume in the series.
The protagonist is Poke Rafferty, whose odd upbringing and broken family have somehow led him to Bangkok, Thailand, and a career as a "travel writer" (writing guides for sex tourists, actually). But falling in love with ex-stripper Rose and taking in street-child Mioaw (now his adopted daughter) have changed his perspective, and now he is looking for a new line of work (and hoping Rose will finally accept his marriage proposal).
Thinking there might be a future is writing about "danger vacations," Poke arranges with a retired intelligence operative to give him a course in detecting and avoiding surveillance... a very practical course on the streets (and in the shops) of Bangkok!
To explain what happens next would spoil some of the surprise of the novel, but let's say it definitely involves ruthless Chinese triads, crooked Thai police, counterfeiting, a pushy American agent, rubies, previously unknown family members, and kidnappings. Plus the return of two more characters from the first novel: Arthit, the honest Thai cop, and his tragically ill wife Noi.
The novel is at least as good as the first one, with plenty of action and plot twists, great dialogue, and interesting characters. A nice touch is that the main characters are well fleshed-out and obviously care for each other (yes, this one may make you cry...). Another nice touch is the author's wonderful sense of humor, in part expressed through his chapter titles (chapter seven is "Women Are The Only People Who Look Good Naked").
For wargamers: Major elements of the plot could easily be transplanted to a crime or Pulp campaign.
This is a great series - I've got the third novel on my 'to read' pile already...
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .