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The Fourth Watcher: A Novel of Bangkok (edition 2008)

by Timothy Hallinan

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11810102,161 (3.98)4
Member:sylviawrigley
Title:The Fourth Watcher: A Novel of Bangkok
Authors:Timothy Hallinan
Info:William Morrow (2008), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Fourth Watcher by Timothy Hallinan

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Compelling international thriller. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
Fans of the Poke Rafferty series will, of course, know that The Fourth Watcher (2008) was Timothy Hallinan’s second entry into the series. As the novel opens, Poke has decided that his new family (Rose, the former bar girl he hopes to marry, and Miaow, the little girl he plucked off the streets of Bangkok for her own good) is the most important thing in the world to him. He wants to abandon the travel book series he’s been writing so that the three of them can settle comfortably into a stable lifestyle.

If only her were so lucky.

Rose and her business partner Peachy are finally having a bit of success with the maid service they run using former bar girls as cleaning crews. By now, with the help of Poke’s investment into the business, Rose and Peachy have given several young women the opportunity to leave the sordid lifestyle associated with Thailand’s sex trade industry. But now, the business has inadvertently become linked to what appears to be a North Korean counterfeiting ring – an operation that takes no prisoners.

And then things really get complicated. Two people from Poke’s past, one of whom he didn’t even know existed, come into his world just when he can least afford the distraction. Poke already has an American Secret Service man after him who would love nothing better than to lock him up for a good long time; now he has to deal with a reunion that will prove to be as dangerously deadly as anything he has ever faced in his life. He and Arthit, the Thai policeman who is Poke’s best friend in the world, are going to have to scramble if they are going to save the lives of those closest to them.

The real strength of the Poke Rafferty series is Hallinan’s well-developed recurring characters. Poke, Rose, Miaow, and Arthit all come with emotional baggage of their own but they meld into a unit that offers each of them exactly the emotional support, love, and friendship they need to finally make something good of their lives. It won’t be easy, but let it be known that they are still doing fine some five books (and counting, I hope) after The Fourth Watcher.

That said, because I have read the series out of order, I can also tell you that the books get even better as the series ages. This one emphasizes the “thriller” aspect of the plot to the point that it becomes a bit overcomplicated in the end. I prefer more “literary” thrillers (yes, I believe there is such a thing), and that’s exactly the direction Hallinan, over time, moves the Poke Rafferty series. Don’t miss ‘em. ( )
  SamSattler | Aug 24, 2015 |
Poke Rafferty is one of the happiest men in Bangkok because Rose has agreed to marry him and he is going to have a family, something he has longed for since he was a child. He is planning on writing a book about spying and this will keep him in funds. He is practicing evading tails as experience for his book and now with the help of a former CIA agent he can spot up to three followers. Unknown to him there are others interested in what he is up to and he fails to identify the fourth watcher. This leads him into some adventures that are too dangerous for his safety, as well as the safety of his family, not to mention his friends. The pace is furious and your pulse is rapid as you become a follower yourself. This is a very good series. ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
Poke Rafferty is an American travel writer living in Bangkok and about to settle down with his girlfriend Rose, if she’ll marry him, and his adopted daughter Miaow when things in his life start to go terribly wrong. His father, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years, arrives in town with Poke’s half-sister and a load of trouble which all lands on Poke’s doorstep and threatens the survival of his new family. To save his family and friends Poke has to bring down a North Korean counterfeit scheme and stop the merciless Chinese Colonel whose retirement savings Poke’s father stole before leaving China.

Going by the book blurb The Fourth Watcher is not really the sort of thing I would expect to like, being more hard-boiled and gangster-y than my usual reading. Which is why I try my hardest not to judge a book by its blurb. Because I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Hallinan captures the weather and the noise and the people of Bangkok perfectly with his simple but wonderfully descriptive writing so you really do feel transported to this exotic location. On top of that there are terrific characters who, though far from perfect, are the sort of people you can’t wait to learn more about and when you do you spend the rest of the book wishing fervently for their survival against the odds. At the centre of things Poke Rafferty is credibly complex as the gruff ex-pat writer who has fallen in love with a country, a woman and a child and watching him realise just how important these people are to him and the lengths he’ll go to in order to ensure their safety is an exercise in satisfying character development. I also adored his relationship with policeman Arthit which is full of sarcastic humour and deep respect in equal parts. Rose, a chain-smoking ex-prostitute who now runs a domestic agency, is a delight being neither too saccharine nor too sharp and Miaow manages to be fragile and strong at exactly the same time and if she doesn’t tug at your heart-strings then it’s unlikely you have a heart at all.

The storyline could have tended towards the sleazy or cheesy but did neither because Hallinan really is a terrific writer. He throws in humour and excitement and sadness at all the right moments and avoids all the clichés nicely. I did struggle a teensy bit to keep track of the final complicated swirl of events that enabled Poke to be reunited with all his loved ones but this is a minor criticism of an otherwise excellent book that will appeal to lovers of edge-of-your-seat thrillers and those who like characters with depth and warmth in abundance. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
loved yet another of Tim's books, fast paced totally unexpected and believable , Poke and his adopted asian family and his estranged family are such a great combination in the novel .Loved it . ( )
  Suzannie1 | Mar 5, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For the Choys: Gerald, Colleen, Gerald Alexander, and Michael. And, as ever, for Munyin who holds the thread.
First words
Poke Rafferty has been on the sidewalk less than five minutes when he spots the tail.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061257257, Hardcover)

Travel writer Poke Rafferty, introduced in A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART, is almost ready to give up his Looking for Trouble book series which would allow him to stay put in Bangkok, with his girlfriend Rose and his newly adopted daughter, Miaow. And with any luck, Rose will finally agree to marriage. But luck is not in Poke-s immediate future, a fact that becomes all too apparent when his long lost father, Frank, who walked out on Poke and his mother when Poke was a child, resurfaces, bringing trouble with him. And trouble, in this case, takes the form of the merciless and desperate Colonel Chu whose -retirement- plans have gone up in smoke, thanks to Poke-s father. Chu-s priceless rubies that have taken years to amass, not to mention the papers that establish a new identity for him, have been stolen and Chu will do anything to get them back. When Frank hands them over to Poke for safekeeping, he puts Rose and Miaow in frightening danger and getting them out of it will take every skill Poke has at his disposal.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Travel writer Poke Rafferty is ready to let go of his Looking for Trouble series of travel books and the dangerous lifestyle that goes with it, and settle down in Bangkok with his fiancee, Rose, and his newly adopted daughter, Miaow. But trouble isn't ready to let go of Poke. Enter the one person Poke least wants to see in the entire world - a person whose emotional hold on Poke is absolute. With him come a box of rubies, a wad of fraudulent identity papers, and - in pursuit of those things - one of the most dangerous gangsters in China." "Add to that Rose's innocent involvement in a North Korean counterfeiting operation and an off-the-tracks agent of the American Secret Service who's dying to put Poke behind bars, and Poke and his family find themselves in a complicated and potentially deadly situation. Getting them all out alive will take every skill Poke has."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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