By the author of the Junior Bender series.
What is the Poke Rafferty series about?
Written by American thriller writer Timothy Hallinan, author of the Simeon Grist series and the Junior Bender series, the Poke Rafferty series is about an American ex-pat writer in Bangkok.
When travel writer Poke Rafferty arrived in Thailand, his life changed forever. Now married to the former “queen” of the Patpong bars, Rose, with whom he’s adopted a daughter off the sidewalks, Miaow, Rafferty finds family life in Bangkok to be more of an adventure than rough travel ever was.
Each book offers him new dangers, but the continuing story is about his unconventional family and all the things they must overcome.
Poke Rafferty Books in Order:
Every book in the Poke Rafferty series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- A Nail Through the Heart – Travel writer Poke Rafferty was good at looking for trouble-so good that he made a little money writing a few offbeat travel guides for the young and terminally bored. But that was before Bangkok stole his heart. Now the expat American is happily playing family with Rose, the former go-go dancer he wants to marry, and with Miaow, the wary street child he wants to adopt. Yet just when everything is beginning to work out, trouble comes looking for Poke in the guise of good intentions.
- The Fourth Watcher – Poke Rafferty is ready to settle down in Bangkok with his fiancée, Rose, and his newly adopted daughter, Miaow. But trouble isn’t ready to let him go; it’s back in Poke’s life with a vengeance, in the guise of his long-estranged father, Frank, the last person he ever wanted to see again. And Frank hasn’t come empty-handed, arriving with a box of rubies, a wad of fraudulent identity papers, and one of the most dangerous gangsters in China in hot pursuit.
- Breathing Water – A late-night poker game in Bangkok nets American ex-pat writer Poke Rafferty the “opportunity” to write the biography of Khun Pan, a flamboyant, vulgar, self-made billionaire with a criminal past and far-reaching political ambitions. Within hours, Rafferty, his wife, Rose, their adopted daughter, Miaow, and Poke’s best friend, honest Bangkok cop Arthit, have become disposable pawns in a brutal power struggle among some of Thailand’s richest, most ruthless citizens.
- The Queen of Patpong – Poke believes his life is stable at last. Then a nightmare figure from Rose’s time as a Patpong dancer barges into their world, threatening their peace, their love, their home, their lives. Suddenly, Poke’s only recourse is to uncover the whole truth of Rose’s past to follow the dark and twisting journey that turned a shy, awkward village teenager into the queen of Asia’s most lurid red-light district: Patpong Road. But the secrets that await him may be almost impossible for Poke to accept – and even harder to survive.
- The Fear Artist – An accidental collision on a Bangkok sidewalk goes very wrong when the man who ran into Poke Rafferty dies in his arms, but not before saying three words: “Helen Eckersley. Cheyenne.” Seconds later, the police arrive, denying that the man was shot. That night, Rafferty is interrogated by Thai secret agents who demand to know what the dead man said, but Rafferty can’t remember. When he’s finally released, Rafferty arrives home to find that his apartment has been ransacked. In the days that follow, he realizes he’s under surveillance.
- For the Dead – Poke Rafferty is happier than he’s ever been. He’s financially solvent, his family is about to grow larger, and his adopted Thai daughter, Miaow, seems to have settled in at junior high school. All that is endangered when Miaow and her boyfriend, Andrew, buy a stolen iPhone from a shady vendor and discover photographs of two dead police officers on it – disgraced officers, violently murdered to avenge the long-dead. Surrounding the murder investigation is a conspiracy that reaches the highest reaches of Bangkok law enforcement, and perhaps beyond.
- The Hot Countries – Back when Poke Rafferty first arrived in Bangkok to write a travel guide, some of the old-timers in the Expat Bar on Patpong Road helped him make sense of the city. Now, these men have grown old and, in some cases, frail. When a talkative stranger named Arthur Varney turns up, they accept him without suspicion, failing to see that he’s actually using them to get to Poke. Varney wants two things: money Poke doesn’t have and a person Poke is unwilling to hand over. It becomes apparent quite quickly that there’s nothing Varney won’t do to secure his goals.
- Fools’ River – The two most difficult days in Bangkok writer Poke Rafferty’s life begin with an emergency visit from Edward Dell, the almost-boyfriend of Poke’s teenage daughter, Miaow. The boy’s father, Buddy, a late-middle-aged womanizer who has moved to Bangkok for happy hunting, has disappeared, and money is being siphoned out of his bank and credit card accounts. It soon becomes apparent that Buddy is in the hands of a pair of killers who prey on Bangkok’s “sexpats”; when his accounts are empty, he’ll be found, like a dozen others before him, floating facedown in a Bangkok canal with a weighted cast on his unbroken leg. His money is almost gone.
- Street Music – The birth of Poke and Rose’s newborn son has littered their small apartment with emotional landmines, forcing Poke to question his identity as a dad and Miaow to question her identity as a daughter. At the same time, the most cantankerous member of the small gang of Old Bangkok Hands who hangs out at the Expat Bar suddenly goes missing under suspicious circumstances. Engaged in the search for the missing American, Poke is caught completely off-guard when someone he thought was gone forever resurfaces – and she has the power to tear the Raffertys apart.
What should you read if you like the Poke Rafferty novels?
If you like reading the Poke Rafferty series, you may be interested in the Junior Bender series, the Simeon Grist Mysteries, or the Vincent Calvino series.