The Fourth Watcher Review
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In his follow-up to A Nail Through the Heart, author Timothy Hallinan proves that his haunting debut wasn’t just beginner’s luck. In fact, as he continues to tell Poke Rafferty’s story, he seems to be getting even better.

Now that he’s got his girlfriend, Rose, and his adopted daughter, Miaow, to care for, American writer Rafferty is beginning to think that it might be time to make a change in his lifestyle. The books he’s written have taken him a bit too close to the Asian underbelly—and he’s taken risks that he can no longer afford to take.

But when a US Secret Service agent shows up in the middle of the night, it has nothing to do with Poke’s questionable business associates. This time, it’s Rose—who, along with her business partner, Peachy, is accused of counterfeiting.

Just as Poke is trying to get to the bottom of the counterfeiting charge, though, things get even more complicated. Poke's long-estranged father, Frank, shows up in Bangkok with his daughter—a half-sister that Poke never even knew about. Frank claims to be running from some very dangerous Chinese gangsters—and he warns Poke that he and his family may be in danger, too.

Timothy Hallinan once again brings the dark alleys of Bangkok to life in his second novel, The Fourth Watcher. As in A Nail Through the Heart, Hallinan provides detailed descriptions that give readers a vivid image of each person and place in the story—and he somehow manages to do so without distracting from the plot. Instead, his carefully crafted descriptions only add to the novel’s dark, pulpy feel, guiding readers through bustling city streets and dimly-lit bars.

Perhaps, like Poke, I’m just fascinated by “what goes on at the edges”—but I found myself captivated by Hallinan’s stories of Chinese gangs and North Korean counterfeiters. At the same time, though, it’s not just the gangsters who are up to no good. Everyone, it seems—from the ex-CIA agent who’s settled in Bangkok to the visiting Secret Service agent to practically every one of the city’s cops—has a dark secret or two lurking somewhere in the shadows. Those dark secrets give the characters depth, but they also keep you guessing—because you’ll never know what, exactly, each character is capable of.

The Fourth Watcher is a stunning follow-up to A Nail Through the Heart. It’s filled with mystery and suspense—as well as a healthy dose of heart—and it’s artfully painted in varying shades of gray. Beautifully written yet satisfyingly seedy, it’s a must-read for pulp mystery enthusiasts and literary types alike.

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