A Nail Through the Heart

Downtown Bangkok: the view from a tuk tuk.


Have just finished Timothy Hallinan’s detective novel ‘A Nail Through the Heart’ and would recommend it to anyone interested in the seedy side of the city. The detective Poke Rafferty chases his way around downtown Bangkok, jumping in and out of tuk tuks, getting beaten up by Cambodian hitmen who have lost their way, while trying to adopt a Thai waif and stray himself. It’s an enjoyable romp; mercifully the elements of murder, child abuse and torture don’t feel gratuitous. Hallinan’s style is very easy and accessible, but not laboured in the manner of Dan ‘suddenly she gasped, thunderstruck by the horror’ Brown.

Its always more fun reading about a place with which you have some familiarity. The scene in the flower market was made all the more vivid by having pushed my way down the crowded alleys myself only recently.

As a fiction-lover, and a newcomer to Bangkok it allowed me to glean little gems about this place that felt fresh and real, instead of ploughing my way through many more worthy factual pieces. Really useful stuff. Facts like: the best place to dump a dead body…where the more garish red-light districts are…or why the Thai people generally drink such dreadful coffee when they actually have a great homegrown brew.

I recommend it, and will be looking to get hold of the next few books in the Poke Rafferty series to read more.


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