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The Fear Artist (Poke Rafferty Mystery #5)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  299 ratings  ·  77 reviews
"Edgar-finalist Hallinan’s heartrending, unforgettable fifth Poke Rafferty thriller" (Publishers Weekly starred review) set in Thailand comes to Soho Crime

An accidental collision on a Bangkok sidewalk goes very wrong when the man who ran into Rafferty dies in his arms, but not before saying three words: Helen Eckersley. Cheyenne. Seconds later, the police arrive, denying t
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Soho Crime (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 593)
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Leighton Gage
You can read Tim Hallinan’s latest novel, “The Fear Artist”, as a standalone.
Can. But why are earth would you want to?
The other books in the Poke Rafferty series are such a delight that you’d have to be whacky not to read them. And, if you haven’t done so as yet, I daresay it’s only because you’ve never heard of Hallinan, or because you don’t like mysteries set anywhere else than in your own backyard.
Either way, in my opinion, you run a grave risk of selling yourself short.
But suppose you’re
PROTAGONIST: Poke Rafferty
SETTING: Bangkok, Thailand
SERIES: #5 if 5

When his wife, Rose, and daughter, Miaow, are out of town, travel writer Poke Rafferty decides it would be an opportune time to redecorate their apartment. As he is leaving the paint store, he collides with a man who has just been shot and dies in Poke’s arms after uttering three words: “Helen Eckersley. Cheyenne.” Almost immediately, the Thai secret police take Poke into custody, demanding to know what the dying man s
The author says in his acknowledgments that this was a very difficult book to write. I can well believe him, because it was also a very difficult book to read. As with all of the books in the Poke Rafferty series, Hallinan opens the eyes of the average American suburbanite and takes us to places that we don't really want to go and shows us things we don't really want to see. The subject matter makes most of us decidedly uncomfortable, and we think to ourselves, time and again, "SOMEBODY should D ...more
Neil Plakcy
Tim Hallinan writes so beautifully about Poke Rafferty’s wife Rose and his daughter Miaow that in every book I start to worry about them almost immediately. In THE FEAR ARTIST, though, Rose and Miaow head off to visit Rose’s family in the north of Thailand while Rafferty paints their apartment. I was happy not to be scared for them—but of course Hallinan won’t let us off so easily. There are plenty of others to care about, including his half-sister Ming Li and his friend Arthit. His strength is ...more
The Fear Artist contains the truly best elements of crime fiction by a master story teller. Set in Thailand, Timothy Hallinan shows a depth of understanding of Thai and expat life that give the story the kind of vivid, seamless, and magical lift that allows a reader to lose himself/herself in the narrative. From the first page, you know that you are in good hands, and sit back and enjoy the ride. In this crime novel, Hallinan knits the crimes of the past to the modern day Bangkok where the night ...more
John Mchugh
Yet another autographed paperback passed on to me by Nancy. The story is set in Bangkok. And the characters are more fully formed than the ones I've encountered in most "thrillers" I've read. Even the secondary characters are very nicely rounded - I'm particularly fond of Vladimir. the soulful Russian spook. I'll definately read more of Mr. Hallinan's books. This one is the most recent book, the sixth, in The Poke Rafferty Series. I think I'll also sample The Junior Bender Series and his The Sim ...more
Hallinan has a series featuring Poke Rafferty, an Anglo-Asian male living in Bangkok. In Hallinan’s hands, Bangkok becomes an international center of intrigue focused on its restive Muslim south and juggling its overheated, overaged male spy population who had happily retired themselves only to be called back into harness. More importantly, Hallinan has created his most interesting and powerful female character yet, Ming Li.

Ming Li is the Anglo-Chinese step-sister of Poke and she aids his lates
Ashland Mystery Oregon
The Fear Artist doesn't appear until somewhere towards the middle of the book, but his presence is felt from page 1. The suspense and thrill that we've come to love and expect from Hallinan's Poke Rafferty series is right up front.

There's an odd series of events that puts Poke right back into the mix, starting with pails of paint that burst with color across the landscape. Poke's down on the street with a dying man whispering in his ear. The whispers of fear are a loud cry of despair, as those i
Lisa Brackmann
This is my second Poke Rafferty book. The first was last year's QUEEN OF PATPONG, a novel I tremendously enjoyed, particularly for the author's skill in depicting a woman from a background far from his own personal experience -- I believed every word of it, and that's rare. QoP also had one of THE most satisfying endings, ever (I won't describe it for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say, the movie it made in my head was awesome!).

Several things about FEAR ARTIST really stood out for me, and it'
Poke Rafferty's wife, Rose, has taken their daughter Miaow out of town to visit Rose's mother. Poke is left to his own devices and decides to paint the apartment while they are gone. But Poke has a lot of hoops to jump through before he gets the apartment painted. As he exits the paint store, a large man runs into him and lands on top of him. As Poke struggles to get up, he sees that the man has been shot. Before he dies the man whispers three words to Poke. The words have no meaning to Poke but ...more
Robert Carraher
I spent almost three weeks in Bangkok back in 1973. That was the only time I ever visited…until now. Timothy Hallinan is responsible for this latest trip, and in the middle of a torrential rain no less, with Poke Rafferty for a tour guide. Hallinan knows Thailand well, since he lives there part time, but a lot of people live in a lot of places and can’t impart to the reader the since of immediacy that Hallinan does in his Poke Rafferty novels.

You’ll get wet. You’ll stay wet. You buy and lose um
This is a new author for me, recommended by Nancy Pearl. She warned the listeners that they would want to burn through everything he has written, and it has certainly been true for me. Yes, they are well written, fast paced mysteries with interesting characters. The thing, however, that makes the difference to me is the amount I learn reading them. He writes about people, and he writes with understanding, of what gets a person into a situation, and how they might react, and in all the difficulty ...more
Debbi Mack
American ex-pat Poke Rafferty is on a mission—to paint his apartment—when he collides with a stranger on the sidewalk fronting the home improvement store. Both men go down in an explosion of colors: Apricot Cream for Rafferty’s wife Rose, and Urban Decay, a rotted eggplant-like hue for Miao, their adopted teenaged daughter. The stranger dies on top of Rafferty, but not before whispering the words, “Helen Eckersley” and “Cheyenne.”

This brief contact makes Rafferty the unwitting subject of interes
Sheila Beaumont
I've loved the wonderful Poke Rafferty series, set in Bangkok, ever since I read the first book, A Nail Through the Heart. Incredibly, each book in the series seems even better than the previous one! I think this has to do with the ongoing character development, so that we get to know the regular characters and their interrelationships more and more deeply.

In The Fear Artist, the fifth in the series, Poke's wife, Rose, and their adopted daughter, Miaow, who are obviously of utmost importance to
The Fear Artist, Tim Hallinan, A+
Poke Rafferty #5
Bangkok, 2011
First line: Two two-gallon cans of paint weigh about five times as much as he'd thought they would.
Coming out of the paint store with said cans of paint, Poke finds himself caught up in a mini-riot which winds up with a farang dying in his arms of gunshot wounds. Before he knows what hit him, Poke is on the run from the Thai version of the CIA, a rogue American mercenary and the entire Bangkok police force.
Tim has out-done himself wit
Waverly Fitzgerald
Hallinan is one of my favorite writers and if I had to pick my favorite of his series, I would probably choose this series over the Junior Bender series (which I also adore), just because I think the emotional lives of the characters in the Poke Rafferty novels draw me in a bit more. All of his books have tense plots, great atmosphere, and virtuoso writing.

This one was a bit disappointing just because the protagonist, Poke Rafferty, is on the run the whole book, because of his accidental encoun
I received a copy of The Fear Artist from a Good Reads giveaway.

Move over all the top crime scene shows on tv, this book has you beat! Being a fan of crime scene shows and mystery books the description of the Fear Artist drew me in right away. I loved how everything in this book was believable and made you feel like you were actually there witnessing it all. It plays on one's emotions and will give you a rush throughout the whole story. I would highly recommend.
Ted Lehmann
Question: When does a book reviewer who loves reading, thinking about, and writing about books turn into a rabid, uncompromising, blathering fan? Answer: When he goes online and buys all the preceding volumes in a series in hardback from a used book seller? Well, actually, there could be a more insane and impulsive step. I could have gone to ABE (the web site of the American Booksellers Association) and bought them all in mint, first edition in order to send them to Tim for autographing, but I'm ...more
Gilbert Gonzales
I have read all of Timothy Hallinan books. I have even met him. The books are excellent. The Poke Rafferty novels, of which the The Fear Artist is the latest, are well crafted, suspenseful, funny and sad. I love them. I loved The Fear Artist. Hallinan consistently keeps my interest.

This probably would have been a solid 5 if Rose and Miaow were more involved. I still love this author and his characters after 5 books in the series. I can't wait for the next one!
Great book, excellent series, gifted author. What more can I say?
This series about an expat travel writer in Thailand just keeps getting better and better.

Poke Rafferty's wife and daughter are away for a few days, and he is going to paint the apartment while they are gone. When he leaves the paint store, a man is shot in front of him, dies in his arms and whispers a name to him. Suddenly there is a video crew, and then a bunch of police who deny that the man was shot. Later that day secret service agents show up at Poke's apartment and take him in for interr
Tim Hallinan makes reading fun. Hallinan is a superb writer whose strength is characters and setting. In The Fear Artist we get plenty of both. The setting is Bangkok and it's flooding. Since this happened only 9 months ago in real life it was a nice surprise to see Tim blend that into the background and story given that he must have started the book before the flood began.

The characters are plentiful and vivid. The villain being Murphy, doing his villainy best to cover up previous atrocities in
Andrew Macrae
By Timothy Hallinan

In a matter of hours, Poke Rafferty’s comfortable life as a successful travel writer living in Bangkok, Thailand is turned upside down and then inside out as a stranger dies in his arms, whispering three last words as his life slips away. Thai secret police officers haul Rafferty in for questioning yet at the same time denying the dying man was shot, waving away the still wet blood on Rafferty’s shirt as having no significance. When a mysterious and murderous Am
Michael Sherer
I read my first Poke Rafferty novel, QUEEN OF PATPONG, on my Kindle. I know, I should have started at the beginning of the series, but I don't mind moving forward and backward in a series if I love the author's writing. (I did that with Bob Crais's Elvis Cole novels, and I'm not sure I've found/read them all, but love every one I've read. In fact, I think that's what we love about a series; if we find an author we like, we read everything the author has written.) But I digress. I heard so many g ...more
J Edward Tremlett
Bangkok, Thailand - a city in which it can honestly be said that you can't even go out and buy paint without getting into trouble.

Of course, trouble and Poke Rafferty tend to go hand in hand, much to his constant chagrin. Ever since he settled in Bangkok -- truly the best worst city in the world -- fell in love with Rose, and adopted Miaow, it seems like massive and dangerous problems have him on speed dial.

But nothing can prepare him for having a condemned man collapse on top of him during a co
Kathleen Hagen
The Fear Artist, by Timothy Hallinan, A. narrated by Victor Devine, produced by Audible Inc., downloaded from

Poke is home alone as Rose and Miaow have gone to visit Rose’s mother. So Poke decides to paint the apartment. He goes out in the continuous rain to buy paint. Carrying his cans home, he runs into a group of people chasing a man. The chased man runs right into him and they both fall over. Then a shot rings out, and the man dies in Poke’s arms after uttering a couple of words.
Gloria Feit
One thing you can always count on in a Poke Rafferty novel: Wherever he is, trouble will find him. Even in such an innocent task as buying two gallons of paint to refurbish his apartment while his wife and daughter are away. As Poke is leaving the store, a man is shot dead, whispering three words to Poke as he expires, and thereby setting off a chain of events that powers the plot.

Nearly at once, Poke is almost arrested by security forces, and he flees until he can ascertain what’s going on. And
As usual, it was gripping from beginning to end; the opening is typically off-beat and reflective of the aura of Bangkok, and the ending, of course, made my jaw drop. I have no idea why, but there was a nagging feeling that it would all end up perfectly tied with a bow, particularly upon the debut of Treasure; Poke seems to have a super soft spot for taking responsibility for the girls and women pushed around by the looming entity of Bangkok's underground. Pim, Miaow, and his endearing
Lakis Fourouklas
The Fear Artist by Timothy Hallinan that was is a fast-paced thriller that takes place in Bangkok, Thailand.

This is the fifth book in a series starring Poke Rafferty, a man who somehow always finds a way to get himself into trouble. It’s not as if he’s inviting it, it’s just that trouble follows him wherever he goes, even outside a shop that sells paints in a street in Bangkok.

The author seems to know the city inside out and so does his hero. Poke has been living there for years with his Thai wi
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I'm a thriller and mystery novelist who divides his time between Los Angeles and Southeast Asia, primarily Thailand, where I've has lived off and on for more than twenty years. As of now, I've had sixteen books published by major imprints.

My newest, FOR THE DEAD (November 2014), is the sixth in a series of Bangkok thrillers about an American travel writer named Poke Rafferty and his small interrac
More about Timothy Hallinan...

Other Books in the Series

Poke Rafferty Mystery (6 books)
  • A Nail Through the Heart (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #1)
  • The Fourth Watcher (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #2)
  • Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #3)
  • The Queen of Patpong (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #4)
  • For the Dead (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #6)
Crashed (Junior Bender, #1) A Nail Through the Heart (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #1) Little Elvises (Junior Bender, #2) The Queen of Patpong (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #4) The Fame Thief (Junior Bender, #3)

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“So you don't think the government is responsible for anything?" "Oh, it's responsible," Rafferty says. "It's responsible for the sloppiness and imprecision of the War on Terror, for example. It's responsible for taking people's tax dollars and spending the country into debt on useless wars and pointless pork projects to buy votes. It's responsible for bailing out the banks instead of standing up for the people the banks cheated. It's responsible for plenty,” 1 likes
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