Timothy Hallinan is the author of ten novels, including the first three Poke Rafferty thrillers "A Nail Through the Heart," "The Fourth Watcher," and "Breathing Water," and a work of nonfiction. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Southeast Asia, primarily Thailand, where he has lived off and on since 1985. www.timothyhallinan.com
My fourth Poke Rafferty thriller, set - like the others - in Bangkok, is due out this August, and it's got everything but a title. At the moment, in the William Morrow Catalog, it's called Title TK.
"TK," for some reason known only to publishers, means "to come." No matter what it means, I think it lacks that certain snap that makes a reader pick up a book. So the people at Morrow and I are asking your help in naming it.
The books follow the adventures of an expatriate American "rough-travel" writer named Poke Rafferty, who has settled permanently in Bangkok and married his Thai lover, Rose, a former dancer on the notorious Patpong Road. Poke and Rose have an adopted daughter, an 11-year-old former street child named Miaow, and at the beginning of this book, it finally looks like things are going well for this little family.
And then a nightmare figure from Rose's past barges into their world and puts everything at risk - their physical safety and their emotional survival as a family. Poke's only hope hope is to discover the whole truth of Rose's past -- a journey into darkness that turned a shy, awkward village teenager into the queen of Asia's most lurid red-light district. And there are secrets back there he's not certain he can truly accept . . . or survive.
The central part of the book - Rose's story - concludes on a cluster of barren rocks in the middle of the Andaman Sea, where she literally has to fight for her life.
I called the book "The Rocks." The people at Morrow don't think The Rocks suggests much of anything to anyone, and that a title with "Patpong" in it will suggest quite a bit. I'm afraid it suggests too much, since this is not one of those erotic fantasies in which beautiful young Thai girls fall mysteriously and helplessly in love with middle-aged western men. I worry about things like that.
But on the other hand, maybe my publishers are right. They know more about selling books than I do. Maybe I'm oversensitive. Maybe I'm a snob.
They've suggested two titles, "The Queen of Patpong" and "The Patpong Girl." I'm still sort of favoring "The Rocks." Please help us settle this by voting for the title you like best.