A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART – Timothy Hallinan

A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART, the first of Timothy Hallinan’s Bangkok thrillers, balances family, love, loyalty, and hope against evil that destroys the spirit and sacrifices innocence to perversion.

I read A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART a few years ago. Tim’s post, “Behind the Smiles”, on the Murder is Everywhere blog, sent me back to the book and I am glad it did. I found things I missed in the first reading and I understand some things better because of what I have learned about Thailand through Tim’s posts.

In the blog, Tim writes that Bangkok is the “meat market where the children of the poor, both male and female, go to sell their beauty.” The men who use them believe “there has to be something real, something genuine, behind smiles like those. And there are: poverty and powerlessness.”

A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART is about family, love, loyalty, hope, and the future but it is also about the debasement of the most innocent of humanity and the evil which kills beauty because there is no need for beauty when power is all that matters. Poke’s search for a missing man and his maid leads him to Madame Wing who offers Poke the money he needs to speed along adoption process that will make Miaow, and 8 year-old street child, legally his. The money will help his love, Rose, establish her business. Madame Wing wants Poke to find an envelope but he must not look at the contents. One man did and had to die for doing so. The threads come together in the end to a satisfying, almost, conclusion.

This is a book that the reader won’t want to put down. Since I first read it, I have thought, on occasion, of “Growing-Younger Man”, the man whose face is so tight Poke wonders how he chews. Why do people try so hard to pretend that they haven’t experienced life? Why is youth so envied when it is the young who haven’t yet had the time to develop the life-skills that allow us to keep living?

But that is a minor issue compared to what the author is really serving up. Child pornography is financed by the people who buy it. Anyone who does is as guilty as the men who perform the abuse. They do it for the world wide audience who know without question that what they are seeing on the screen isn’t pretend. And then there is the ultimate question: When is the taking of a life not a wrong? Are all murderers equally guilty? How should society respond when, as Poke says, “The victims were guilty….and the murderers were innocent?”

Finally, the book reminded me that I haven’t told my children enough about the killing fields of Cambodia. As the victims of the holocaust should never be forgotten, neither should the victims of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.  We have an obligation to them as well.

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5 Responses to A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART – Timothy Hallinan

  1. Dear Beth,
    Am I the first?
    To remark upon this new endeavor of yours?
    I sure hope so.
    I SO look forward to your future posts!

    • Beth says:

      You are the first, Leighton, and I thank you. My daughter and I have enjoyed setting this up. She is the clever one.

      There can never be too many places to post reviews. I hope other people will post, too. The more authors that can be brought to the attention of avid readers the better.

  2. Timothy Hallinan says:

    I am SOOOO FLATTERED, Beth. This is the kind of thing that reminds me why I write, especially during those long bleak periods when the book feels like tripe and I feel like I’ll never be able to get it right, and why bother anyway?

    Can’t thank you enough. And lots of luck with the blog. It can be a lot of fun.

  3. Pingback: AUTHORS E – H (A Long List) | MURDER by TYPE

  4. Pingback: A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART – Timothy Hallinan | MURDER by TYPE

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