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A Nail Through the Heart

by Timothy Hallinan

Published by William Morrow

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A Thief, found dead in an alley.

A Man, disappeared from a city that never knew he existed.

A Boy, grievously hurt, who everyone called Superman.

Bangkok, the glittering center of a country full of ghosts.

Travel writer Poke Rafferty is good at looking for trouble -- so good he makes his living writing offbeat travel guides for the young and terminally bored. His Looking for Trouble series is for travelers obsessed with the unusual: how to beat official foreign-exchange rates; how to spot fake amber or counterfeit money; how much to bribe a cop; how to identify a transvestite before it's too late; and how to know, within an hour of arriving in a strange city, where to find the best bars, the best clubs, the best food, the best clothes, and the dodgiest entertainment at the best prices. Then Rafferty falls in love with Rose, an ex-Patpong Road bar girl, and he badly wants to be a part of her new life. Both Rose and Bangkok itself have stolen his heart. To complete his new family, Rafferty is in the process of adopting a wary eight-year-old street child -- one of the many casualties of Thailand's poverty -- when trouble comes looking for him.

First he takes in another orphan, a troubled and terrifying street urchin nicknamed Superman. Then he agrees to find a distraught woman's missing uncle, a task that seems simple enough given the uncle's predilections for just the kind of shadowy places Rafferty knows well. Finally, in a moment of weakness, he accepts an old woman's generous payment in exchange for locating a blackmailing thief. Soon, these three seemingly disparate events begin to overlap, pulling Rafferty deeper into dark, unfamiliar terrain, and he begins to realize that some people guard unspeakable secrets that don't always show on their faces -- and that all this time he's been gliding across the surface of a culture he doesn't understand. 


pub date: 2007-07-01 | hardcover | 9780061258809