Title: Breathing Water
Author: Timothy Hallinan
Date Read: October 7, 2013
Series: Poke Rafferty Mystery #3
Summary: Behind every great fortune is a great crime . . .
For American ex-pat writer Poke Rafferty, a late-night poker game delivers an unexpected prize: an "opportunity" to write the biography of Khun Pan, a flamboyant, vulgar, self-made billionaire with a criminal past and far-reaching political ambitions. The win seems like a stroke of luck, but as with so many things in vibrant, seductive, contradictory Bangkok—a city of innocence and evil, power and poverty—the allure of appearances masks something much darker. Within a few hours of folding his cards, Rafferty, his wife, Rose, beloved adopted daughter, Miaow, and best friend, Arthit, an honest Bangkok cop, have become pawns in a political struggle among some of Thailand's richest, most powerful, and most ruthless people.
A hero to the poor and dispossessed, Pan is like a bone in the throats of the beautiful, sophisticated "good" people who own and control every facet of Thailand and want more. There are many who would prefer that a book, especially a sympathetic book, stay unwritten. And there are others who want to expose Pan's darker secrets, information useful in a preemptive strike against this profligate billionaire who can threaten their hold on power—a situation they will go to murderous lengths to prevent.
Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, Rafferty is breathing water and sinking deeper in a sea of intrigue with each passing hour. The trouble multiplies when a missing young street friend of Miaow's reappears, needing Rafferty's help to protect an innocent village girl trapped in a baby-selling ring. Pushed ever closer to the abyss, Rafferty has one chance to get them all out alive. But to succeed, this foreigner must do the impossible—keep a cool Thai heart.
Set in the Thailand of today's headlines—a nation of unrest, political uncertainty, corruption, and tradition, where the future looks dangerously precarious—Breathing Water is the story of a deadly game in which the stakes are enormous and life is literally cheap. The most compelling Poke Rafferty thriller yet, it is a journey that goes beyond the illusion of order and stability into a world where a wrong turn can lead to chaos, and where love and courage may not be enough to hold back the darkness. goodreads
Review: (Goodness that's a long summary, huh?) This is another one of those hand-me-downs from my uncle. I actually read the first book in this series a while back. If I were to guess, it was a hand-me-down from my father, so it is no surprise that I got this one from his brother. Overall, this book is well done. I enjoy the characters. Poke is a genuinely good guy who uses his skills to help children and the people he cares for. I love Miaow and the elusive "superman" makes an appearance which made me happy. This book pretty much covers every aspect of the dark side of Thailand. Politics, cops (good and bad), the extremely rich and extremely poor and follows Poke as he navigates his way though the mess that has been created for him. The only problem I had was keeping all of the "bad guy" characters straight. It got confusing in the end when everyone was flipping and I had a hard time remembering who was in cahoots with who. This is an easy, fast paced novel that I would recommend if you are interested in finding justice for the corrupt.