Saturday, April 26, 2008

Timely travel tales and a question about amateur sleuths

Hot on the heels on the Lonely Planet/Thomas Kohnstamm travel-guide scandal, and through the good offices of William Morrow, come Timothy Hallinan's first two novels about Poke Rafferty, a rough-travel writer forced by circumstances to turn investigator.

Jacket copy on the first book, A Nail Through the Heart, says Rafferty's "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."

I don't know if this novel or its follow-up, The Fourth Watcher, deal with issues raised in the Kohnstamm dust-up — comps, freebies, accounts based on visits that never happened — but that lighthearted blurb leads me to believe in the possibility. And the protagonist's situation — he's not just Bangkok-based, but he writes for foreigners seeking thrills — leaves ample room for satire, not to mention intrigue and thrills. The novel's short prologue, though, is a somber invocation of a tsunami as seen through a jerky TV camera.

Rafferty's job expands my list of interesting amateur-sleuth professions, a subject about which I've posted here and here. And so, readers, two questions: Have you met any other travel-writer sleuths in your reading? How about other odd and interesting occupations for your favorite amateur detectives?

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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Blogger Kerrie said...

I reviewed ANTTH a while back Peter. and Tim Hallinan left a note on the review.The novel felt very authentic to me.
I had also written a progress report while I was reading it.

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the note. I'll try to hold off reading your review and report until I've posted my own; I wouldn't want your judgment to color mine. But I will keep your comment about the book's authenticity in mind as I read.

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

The hero in Dick Francis's Longshot is a survival-guide writer.

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the comment. That book might make interesting reading in conjunction with my reading of Timothy Hallinan.

Incidentally, I thought of Dick Francis earlier this week when I was reading Declan Hughes' The Price of Blood. That book explores the world of Irish horse racing in some depth, and I realized that between it and Peter Temple's Jack Irish novels, crime-fiction writers are still finding life in Dick Francis' sport.

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I have tagged you Peter at

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think I'll write a book called The Interpretation of Memes.

Thanks. I'll take a look now.

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Lyn LeJeune said...

The Beatitudes, Book I in The New Orleans Trilogy, has two social workers turned sleuths. One just happens to be a voodoo princess and the other a ghost. Well, it does takes place in New Orleans. Subtitled: A Pinch & Scrimp Adventure at

April 26, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the comment, and welcome. I'm not sure ghost qualifies as a profession, but yeah, I'd say social worker/ghost and social worker/voodoo princess make it.

I've read a couple of the stories in the current Demolition Magazine since I made a post about John McFetridge last week. I'll be sure to take a look at your story.

April 26, 2008  

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