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By Timothy Hallinan

William Morrow, 2008 ($24.95)
ISBN-10: 0061257257
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-125725-4

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Poke Rafferty came to Bangkok to research a book for his "Looking for Trouble" travel series, and he fell in love -- in love with the city, the country, a lady named Rose, and a street urchin called Miaow. This traveling man decided to put down some roots, at least for awhile, and his little family is doing well. Rose, a former dancer in a Patpong Road bar, now runs a cleaning company with her friend Peachy, employing other ladies with a similar background. Because this is Bangkok, the business doesn’t always run smoothly. There’s some funny money being circulated, and the ladies wind up with some of it, bringing them, and Poke, to the attention of an American Secret Service agent investigating a major, international counterfeiting ring.

Miaow, now sure of the love of her adoptive parents, Poke and Rose, is growing in confidence. Rose is learning how to trust, and Poke is realizing what’s really important in life. He’s never been happier.Then his father, long absent from Poke’s life, shows up out of the blue asking for forgiveness and a big favor. He’s run afoul of a very powerful person, a Chinese colonel, by taking some valuable property from him. By involving Poke he puts the happy family into serious jeopardy. Some reunion, Dad! Poke has to use every skill he’s learned to try and save those he loves.

There is murder, suspense, deception, treachery, aplenty, but at the heart of it, this story is about family -- the family you are born into, and the family you create. How much do you owe them, and how far would you go to keep them safe?

Hallinan spends much of his time in Thailand, and he knows whereof he speaks. He has a genuine love for the country and its people, flaws and all, and it comes across in his stories. Hallinan has a way with words: his descriptions are rich, his characters real, his plotting tight, his stories a pleasure to read. The first book in the series, A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART, has been well-received, and the early reviews for THE FOURTH WATCHER are consistently glowing. I hope there will be many more happy birthdays for the little family, and I mean that one hundred percent!

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