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August 6, 2017 / schulerbooks

Fools’ River, by Timothy Hallinan


One thing you can say for sure about Bangkok — life there is never, ever dull.

It’s not been too long since travel writer Poke Rafferty saw off a very frightening threat to his ever-growing family. However, no sooner does he refocus on his wife’s pregnancy (and adopted daughter Miaow’s teenage trials and tribulations) than another weird and potentially dangerous situation drops itself into his lap.

The problem is with one of his daughters’ friends — his dad’s gone missing, for longer than usual this time.

Apparently Edward’s dad, like far too many “sexpats,” enjoys the company of several women every week. Some are regular, and some are one-offs, but he always comes home eventually.

This time, however, the only people who returned were burglars, intent on grabbing his checkbooks and credit cards. Since then, the accounts have been steadily drained, which means he’s probably being forced into depleting his funds. But where is he, and who has him?

The Bangkok cops are, of course, next to useless, and probably on the take. That leaves Poke and his police friend, Arthit, to puzzle over over the situation. The answers aren’t encouraging, though: Edward’s father has been missing for 12 days, now, and if they don’t find him soon he’ll most likely be found dead, if he surfaces at all.

That problem would be bad enough, but when it rains in Bangkok it really comes down. There’s also the matter of another of Miaow’s friends, Lutanh, who has a harrowing hotel room encounter with another farang — one that leaves her broken and fearful for her life, but unable to turn to the police for help.

And then there’s Rose, who’s been keeping a terrible secret from Poke all this time — one that might shatter the life they’ve been building together…

In the course of two days, Poke does his best to save a boy’s father and get some kind of rough justice for Lutanh, all the while worrying about his wife’s lack of replies to his calls. It’s the sort of breakneck, worrisome pace that would drive most men to their knees, but he’s got friends in high and low places, and a knack for bringing them all together to make things happen.

But will he be able to juggle the sharp pieces of these separate problems in time to save Edward’s father from floating face-down in Fools’ River?

Award-winning author Timothy Hallinan has a genius for putting a likeable anti-hero into a very trying situation, only to get him out of it by playing various sides against each other. But this time there’s no sides to play. To get through, Poke has to rely on his wits and will, along with the strange luck that mother Bangkok doles out (or withdraws) at her whim.

That alone would make this novel a stand-out, even for Hallinan’s excellent work. However, in Fools’ River, he also illuminates a harsh truth about life in the city: sometimes the prey is transformed into the predator. In such cases, almost everyone is a victim to some degree, but revenge becomes an ugly thing where no one walks away completely clean.

Delightfully sinister, yet strangely sweet, the latest novel in the Poke Rafferty series will have you cheering, as always. It might also break your heart a few times, but that’s Bangkok for you.

Fools’ River drops November 7th, and will be available in all Schuler Books and Music locations. It can also be ordered from our website!




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