The Queen of Patpong

queenThe Queen of Patpong
by Timothy Hallinan
2010 / 320 pages
read by Victor Bevine –  11h 50m
rating –  A+  – literary crime
(#4 in Poke Rafferty series)

One night while Poke, Rose and Miao Rafferty are eating dinner in a Thai restaurant, a man approaches and seriously threatens them – violence ensues.  The guy turns out to be Howard Horner,  a man from Rose’s unfortunate past, who has returned to get revenge.

After getting all that straightened out and meeting a couple of current bar girls,  the narrative moves to Rose’s background and the transformation from her life as an impoverished farm girl  named Kwan to being Rose,  the “Queen of Patpong.”   (Patpong is a red-light district in Bangkok.)

Rose’s past takes up about half the center of the book and it’s the riveting, gritty  story of how it happens that farm girls from northern Thailand become bar dancers in Bangkok,  There is a very authentic feel to this whole section of the narrative,  not in the specifics but in general because while relating the tale,  Hallinan brings to life some characters we really care about.  These are not just reflections of the statistics or cardboard pornography we usually see. Parts of The Queen of Patpong are grittier than others as it deals with the essentially  forced prostitution of underage girls in Bangkok.   I had a hard time with the subject matter for awhile.  It’s not light or easy reading.  >>>>MORE (no spoilers) >>>> 

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