Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Book signing features slide show
I attended a signing last night at Mysteries & More, a great small bookstore in Nashville. I’ve been to many signings in a variety of settings where authors talk about their new books, how they came to write them, maybe even read a few pages. This one was different.
Tim Hallinan built his remarks about Breathing Water, his new Bangkok thriller, around a slide show. I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds fascinating. Tim illustrated the theme of the book with striking photos of Bangkok, from its teeming outdoor markets and its streets clogged with creeping traffic to Patpong, the city’s infamous red light district.
The book deals with the contrasts between Thailand’s hidden elite and the underprivileged that dominate the landscape. Tim’s Bangkok thrillers are built around expatriate travel writer Poke Rafferty and his unconventional family, a former go-go dancer from the Patpong who is now his wife and a young girl from the streets he has adopted.
Tim says what interests him most is exploring the dynamics of the Rafferty family. His slide show explores the backgrounds of his characters. Wife Rose came from a poor section of the country where young girls are sold by their parents into a life of sexual slavery. Some, like Rose, go the bar girl route and travel to Bangkok where they earn money to support their families back home but are free to leave at any time.
He also showed children like those homeless on the streets by the thousands. That was the life Poke’s daughter Miaow lived before he rescued her.
Tim dealt with the secular city and the Thais’ Buddhist roots, showing striking temples and the ubiquitous saphron robes of Buddhist monks. But the main thrust of his presentation dealt with the crux of the plot in Breathing Water, the continuing tension between factions for control of Thailand. The real power in the country is wielded by a small group of super-wealthy Thai-Chinese who are prepared to do whatever it takes to remain in command.
Poke and his family are caught up in the struggle when he wins an unusual poker game. He wins the right to write the story of a flamboyant billionaire with designs to upset the power structure. But those in the dueling factions threaten Poke and his family if he writes the book…or if he doesn’t.
Read more about Breathing Water at his website, TimothyHallinan.com. I highly recommend the series, which also includes A Nail Through the Heart and The Fourth Watcher.