Breathing Water by Timothy Hallinan

breathingReviewed by Patricia Reid

Hallinan has outdone himself with Breathing Water. The previous Bangkok Thrillers are outstanding books but Breathing Water is even better. The plot is intriguing and the setting exotic. The author gives the reader an excellent visual image of each character.

Poke Rafferty joins in a poker game set up by his friend, Arthit, who is a police officer and Kosit, another police officer. There are seven men in the game and three are rich. Two of the players are cops and one is a career criminal. The game was set up to help casino owners find ways to spot the dodges that the criminal was going to demonstrate during the game. However, no one expected Kuhn Pan, a very rich and powerful man in Bangkok. When all was said and done and the game ended, Pan lost and Poke, who is a writer, won the right to write Pan’s biography without interference.

It seems as though the story might end there but it is only the beginning. Poke immediately finds himself in a no win situation. Poke is threatened and soon realizes that it not only his life on the line but that of his wife, Rose, and daughter, Miaow.

Pan is a hero to many of the people of Bangkok and a threat to others. Digging into Pan’s past is a danger but Poke feels he must do what he can do to uncover some fact that will help him protect himself and his family.

Arthit can’t be of much help to him because he is dealing with his own problems. Arthit’s wife, Noi, who is suffering from a serious medical condition, is becoming increasingly worse and Arthit fears for her life.

Boo a/k/a Superman, who played a big part in the first Bangkok thriller, is back in the picture. Boo contacts Poke seeking his help for a young girl who is involved in a baby-selling ring. Poke does not need another problem to solve but will not turn his back on Boo.

There are a few laugh aloud scenes in the book but there is tragedy there as well. Breathing Water keeps the reader on edge until the very satisfying conclusion.

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