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by Timothy Hallinan
William Morrow, June 2007
336 pages
ISBN: 0061255807

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Expatriate Poke Rafferty is a freelance writer living in Bangkok. Right after the 2003 tsunami many of the orphans ended up living on the streets of Bangkok. That is where he found Miaow, an eight-year old girl. He took her in to live with him and his ex-prostitute girlfriend Rose. Now Rafferty would like to formally adopt the child. Soon Miaow brings a friend of hers into the family. He is an 11-year-old boy, known as Superman by the other urchins because he protects them from the violence of the streets.

In order to pay the adoption fees for Miaow, Rafferty takes on the role of private investigator. The first client is a woman from Australia whose uncle Claus Ulrich recently went missing while living in Bangkok.

While looking for Uncle Ulrich he meets elderly Madam Wing, a very powerful and influential woman who recently had an important envelope stolen from where she buried it. She offers Rafferty $30,000 to find the envelope and the man who took it. But she also threatens to kill Rafferty if he looks in the envelope because it contains information and pictures about Madam Wing and her past life.

Rafferty roams the seedier side of Bangkok and discovers the awful truths about Uncle Ulrich and Madam Wing, all while also finding out what might be the history of his soon-to-be adoptive daughter Miaow and her moody and violent friend Superman.

A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART by Timothy Hallinan is filled with the sights and sounds of Bangkok months after the deadly tsunami hit that country. Hallinan brings the story to life by writing about real and likable characters. The mood of the book is very solemn because of the main subjects, yet the story is not totally depressing. There are some light moments in the story with a wonderful character who is Rafferty's friend, is also a member of the police force and adds some great humor even though he has personal problems of his own.

Though many of the things the book talks about are common knowledge, A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART takes it to another level for its readers by making it personal. We grow to love some of these characters and hate others. The descriptions of what they went through are well written.

A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART is a beautiful yet terrifying book that illustrates the humanity and hatred that people show to each other. This novel is well worth reading.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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