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The Fourth Watcher

Timothy Hallinan
In Print
HarperCollins Publishers (2008)

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This entry created 28 May 2012. Last revised on 5 September 2016.

2,344 hits since 28 May 2012
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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The Fourth Watcher

A Novel of Bangkok

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star (9.50)

314 pages.

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 Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.