I finished Timothy Hallinan's The Queen of Patpong this morning. Well, twice this morning.
Forced to stop reading a little after 1 a.m. because my vision was going wonky (I'm usually lights-out by 11 at the latest) I got up this morning, pushed the button for my French Roast and continued until the end.
For those reading this series (and everyone should), here's my tip for Queen: Do not read chapter 19 thinking you'll go to sleep afterward. Ain't gonna happen.
But there's more from a writer's view. It is totally interfering with my own work at this point. Until I get it out of my system (thank goodness for blogs) it's in the way. I try to focus on the story I'm writing (which I totally adore, and has some potential in its own right) but this unseen element keeps punching me in the shoulder. So. In the interest of me getting back to my cadaver dogs and foolish humans, here's what I want to expound on.
The Poke Rafferty series in general: The second one is the weakest of the four, but still good. Don't skip it. They all hang together like some delicate lace. Read them in order. Read them all.
Hallinan's characterization:They are rich and complex. They live in a rich and complex society (Bangkok) and one bleeds into the other. They both will rip your heart out. Heroes abound in the most unlikely places. And no one, no one, has given me an eight or nine or ten-year old girl better than Timothy Hallinan.
Chapter Length: I haven't checked this, but my impression was that somehow they got longer in the last two books. There were scene breaks, but personally, I miss the shorter chapters. Could have been an editorial/publisher/cost thing. (So, in reference to my tip, Chapter 19 in Queen is long. And intense. Just sayin'.)
Third Person Present: This is awesome. I don't know how long it took him to find his voice there, but you have got to check it out. I don't know if it's operator error or truth, but on my Kindle edition of the first book in the series, A Nail Through the Heart, I did a search for the word "was". Guess what, it showed up a grand total of . . . . ZERO times.
Action scenes: We've been taught that short, bullet-type sentences help convey the speed and urgency of a situation. I get that. It's true. The problem I've seen with this technique in the past is that an action scene can come out sounding like a To-Do list. Hallinan conveys intensity using a zillion commas. Here's one sentence (if I can choose just one—okay, I picked three in succession) from page 256 of The Queen of Patpong :
She's emitting a high, earsplitting squeal, as even and unvarying as an electronic alarm. Her assailant brings up a hand and hits her with a heavy slap that rocks her head and loosens her grip, and she pitches forward onto her stomach. The man brings back a foot to kick her.
I just sat back and said, "Oh, wow."
CR: Think I'll begin a Jeffery Deaver tonight. One I bought at the Writer's Police Academy. Sorry, can't think of the name right now.
It's all better with friends.