Shop Costumes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Janet Jackson All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Introducing Handmade New Kitchen Scale from AmazonBasics Amazon Gift Card Offer redoaks redoaks redoaks  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now Learn more
Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty Thriller Book 3) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $14.99
  • Save: $3.80 (25%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Breathing Water (Poke Raf... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Crisp, attractive copy.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty) Paperback – August 17, 2010

46 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$4.50 $0.25

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
$11.19 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty)
  • +
  • The Queen of Patpong: A Poke Rafferty Thriller (Poke Rafferty Thrillers)
  • +
  • A Nail Through the Heart: A Novel of Bangkok
Total price: $35.92
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Hallinan's nicely paced third Bangkok thriller to feature writer Poke Rafferty (after The Fourth Water), Poke wins a bet to write the biography of Khun Pan, a major-league bad guy, after a dispute with Pan in a poker game. When local papers run big stories about the deal, a phone caller threatens Poke, his wife and his daughter if he goes ahead with the project. Soon afterward, Poke is forced into a car by gun-wielding men who demand he write the book, but based on interviews with people on a set list. Poke's efforts to keep himself alive amid competing interests move the plot along. His sangfroid in the face of serious peril, reminiscent of Cary Grant's in North by Northwest, may strike some readers as out of place in a book that opens with a heartrending scene of a thug instructing a reluctant girl how to become a professional beggar by pinching an infant to make it cry to gain more sympathy. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Hallinan is a born storyteller, layering plot upon plot and twist upon turn, and, as a bonus, he’s a superb stylist whose assured prose continually delights and surprises the reader....A thriller with a heart that’s easily one of the best books of the year.” (Sunday Denver Post)

“The dialogue crackles, the sense of one of the world’s edgiest cities is sharp, and the plight of the poor, especially the children, is moving.” (Booklist)

“BREATHING WATER is action-packed and steamily atmospheric, and as cleverly plotted a mystery as you are likely to read this year.” (BookPage (September Mystery of the Month))

“Cleverly crafted, masterfully written, characters and dialogue rooted in reality, BREATHING WATER offers fascinating insights into the dark side of crime in another culture. Written with the authority of one who knows life on the hard edge in southeast Asia. Another wonderful read from an author who knows his business.” (Steve Martini, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow of Power and Compelling Evidence)

“BREATHING WATER crackles with the intrigue and danger of the streets and sanctums of modern-day Bangkok. Like a twenty-first century Maltese Falcon laced with Bangkok 8.” (Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zone, The Dark Tide, and Don't Look Twice)

“Another masterpiece of contemporary crime fiction. Hallinan takes us on a thrilling Tuk Tuk ride into a city seemingly always on the verge of chaos that somehow always manages to hold together-if you like tautly plotted, intelligent crime fiction do yourself a favor and jump on board.” (Adrian McKinty, author of Dead I Well May Be and Fifty Grand)

“The best thriller of the year. Smart, fast, exotic.” (Larry Beinhart, author of SALVATION BOULEVARD and American Hero (AKA Wag the Dog))

“BREATHING WATER is a stunning, beautiful, and gripping thriller. Hallinanweaves together an engrossing story with prose that jump off the page, andmakes you feel like you are actually there. No question, this is one of thebest books of the year.” (Brett Battles, author of SHADOW OF BETRAYAL and THE CLEANER)

“Hallinan’s prose will engage readers.... Never lags for intrigue as it interweaves the lives of Thai street children with a tale of political power gone bad.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Humor and horror expertly play off one another in a rapid-fire story of political intrigue and murder. The plot is skillfully tangled and the sense of menace refreshingly relentless. Top form writing set in Bangkok, a great place for action and a backdrop Hallinan uses to superb advantage.” (James Church, author of A Corpse in the Koryo)

“The latest entry in the compelling “Bangkok Thriller” series. I love this series because the Bangkok setting offers a platform for Hallinan to explore social and ethical conventions. (With) a strong theme supporting love, family and loyalty while challenging our Western preconceptions of what those things should really mean.” (San Jose Mercury News)

“Fast-paced...Beautifully written, with vivid descriptions.” (Cambodia Daily)

“BREATHING WATER is as brilliant a piece of crime fiction as I’ve had the pleasure of reading, from the clean prose of the author to Poke Rafferty’s noir humor, and the richness of the Thai landscape.” (

“Breathing Water is the best contemporary crime fiction I’ve read in a long time. I plan on going out immediately and buying all of Hallinan’s other books.” (

“Hallinan has crafted a fast-paced, high-energy thriller that grabs you from the very first moment and doesn’t let up . . . . Breathing Water is indeed the best crime fiction I’ve read, not only this year, but in the past ten. ” (

“The book is extraordinary, magnificent, exceptional, heart-shaking, heart-breaking, brilliant. As I read this book, I laughed, I cried, I gasped-but I never, ever yawned. BREATHING WATER is a great book. ” (

“A terrific thriller . . . Last year’s The Fourth Watcher was [Hallinan’s] best yet -- but his new one, Breathing Water, tops it. Hallinan’s books are more ferocious than [John] Burdett’s, and he excels at creating truly frightening villains.” (Dick Adler,

“This is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. The mystery, danger, and intrigue satisfy the lover of mystery and thriller, while the relationships give the story depth. Especially nice is the relationship between Rafferty and Arthit, one of the few honest cops in Bangkok.” (

“Captures the essence of life in Bangkok and delivers all the mystery, intrigue and breathtaking excitement one comes to expect from the Poke Rafferty series of superb crime thriller novels. With this one, author Hallinan is at the top of his game. ” (

“The thrill in reading Breathing Water comes from the subtle but relentless escalation of tension in the story. . . . The poignant conclusion will no doubt bring a tear or two to one’s eyes. A remarkable and unusual novel and may be Hallinan’s best to date. ” (

“Hallinan has outdone himself with Breathing Water. The previous Bangkok Thrillers are outstanding books but Breathing Water is even better . . . Breathing Water keeps the reader on edge until the very satisfying conclusion.” ( (5 stars))

“A Nail Through the Heart was a revelation, yet The Fourth Watcher was a leap forward. Breathing Water takes another step. It’s a book you’d be sorry to finish if you weren’t so emotionally exhausted by the end. Look for it on award lists at the end of the year.” (

“[A] searing beauty of a book. A compelling tale of a quiet hero just trying to get by in the best worst city in the world. If you like exotic thrillers that are as full of heart as they are twists and reverses, you should check it out.” (Schuler Books Blog)

“If you have not yet discovered the Poke Rafferty/Bangkok Thriller series, it’s time to put on a wetsuit and start Breathing Water. A rich, multi-leveled, intelligent thriller series that will tickle you to laugh, challenge you to think, and buckle you in for an adventurous ride through Bangkok.” (Jen's Book Thoughts)

See all Editorial Reviews
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 73%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Series: Poke Rafferty (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061672254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061672255
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #806,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edgar, Shamus, Macavity and Lefty nominee Timothy Hallinan has written eighteen published novels, all thrillers and mysteries, all critically praised. He currently writes two series, one set in Los Angeles and the other in Bangkok.

His 2014 Junior Bender novel, "Herbie's Game," won the Lefty Award for Best Comic Crime Novel of the year. His 2010 Poke Rafferty Bangkok novel, "The Queen of Patpong," was nominated for the Edgar as Best Mystery of the Year.

The Junior Bender mysteries trace the adventures of a burglar who moonlights as a private eye for crooks. In its first eighteen months, the series has been nominated for both the Lefty and the Shamus for best mystery. The titles to date are "Crashed," "Little Elvises," "The Fame Thief," and "Herbie's Game." Coming in April 2016 is "King Maybe."

The Junior Bender books are presently in development by comedian Eddie Izzard as a primetime television series.

In 2007, the first of his Edgar-nominated Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers, "A Nail Through the Heart", was published. "Hallinan scores big-time," said Kirkus Reviews, which went on to call the book "dark, often funny, and ultimately enthralling." "Nail" was named one of the top mysteries of the year by The Japan Times.

Rafferty's Bangkok adventures have continued with "The Fourth Watcher," "Breathing Water," "The Queen of Patpong," "The Fear Artist," and "For the Dead." "Queen," in addition to the Edgar, was nominated for the Macavity. Coming in 2015 is "The Hot Countries."

In the 1990s he wrote six mysteries featuring the erudite private eye Simeon Grist, beginning with "The Four Last Things," which made several Ten Best lists, including that of The Drood Review. The other books in the series were well reviewed, and several of them were optioned for motion pictures. The series is now regarded as a cult favorite.

He has also edited two books. "Shaken: Stories for Japan" contained original stories by top mystery writers and raised more then $100,000 for tsunami relief efforts, with every penny going straight to Japan. "Making Story: 21 Writers and How They Plot" contained practical ideas on plotting by well-known mystery and thriller writers.

Hallinan has written full-time since 2006. Since 1982 he has divided his time between Los Angeles and Southeast Asia, the setting for his Poke Rafferty novels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By T. Baker on August 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Timothy Hallinan's books, but have been really excited the last few years with his latest series featuring ex-pat and Bangkok resident Poke Rafferty. I've never been there, except through these novels. The third and newest, Breathing Water, is beautifully descriptive and evocative. There have been several Bangkok thrillers available, but none of them can place you in the Thai culture more definitively or more viscerally than Hallinan's.
In Breathing water, he has gone even further to describe Bangkok in all its beauty and ugliness; to explain it people in all their bravery and depravity; and to immerse the reader even more deeply in the taste and look of its food, the feel of its air as a character walks down a street or the sounds of its day to day activity. As an armchair reader, I was literally there.
Just as he did in the first two Bangkok novels, Hallinan weaves his plots like a tapestry artist. In Breathing water, the Byzantine and corrupt nature of Thai politics and the evil of the child-brokerage business wind together to make a can't-put-down thriller in which the hero, Poke Rafferty, races to save not only himself, but his beloved wife and daughter. And, as the plots unfold and snake around one another, Hallinan expertly shows that, once again, Poke is a guy who can do what needs to be done and that the Thais do have hope of a better world where the "haves" are not always in control and where the many street children of Bangkok, though adrift and constatly in danger, are empowered and strong and triumphant. To me, all of this is filtered through Hallinan's great love for the Thai people and his belief in their goodness and strength.
These are exciting, thrilling, yet moving novels.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eric Stone on September 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is yet another of the truly great books by Tim Hallinan. It's about so many different things - Bangkok, human relationships, families, politics, economics, among others - yet it weaves all those elements together seamlessly in service to an exciting story that keeps you reading at a torrid pace. I've spent a lot of time in Bangkok over the years and there is no other writer working who conveys as deep a sense and understanding of the place as Hallinan. He's also just plain got a way with words. He strings together sentences and phrases that regularly astonish and delight me. I'm looking forward to many more books to come.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suzanna Aguayo on August 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tim Hallinan's "Breathing Water: A Bangkok Thriller," the third of the Poke Rafferty series, delivers another generous helping of complex holographic characters that range from deadly crooks, cops, and babies, to lost souls who inhabit a ghost world seen and understood only by the most compassionate young woman Hallinan has created to date. Hallinan crafts an upside down Bangkok where the powerful ostentatious and criminally rich are outwitted and overpowered by Poke and his band of least likely to succeed allies. Throughout this taut thriller Hallinan deftly weaves in a level of sensitivity and care just where it's needed. This book is a great read. I didn't want it to end and I look forward to the next one!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I love fish-out-of-water stories, so I come to the Poke Rafferty novels by Timothy Hallinan favorably pre-disposed. That, of course, is only a start. What keeps me reading is the mix of Hallinan's deep and broad literary talents, consisting of his edgy narrative voice, his sharp-as-nails characterizations, and the casual manner in which his plot can suddenly turn and grab the reader by the throat. For those belonging to the dwindling ranks of the uninitiated, Rafferty is an American expatriate who resides in Bangkok and makes his living as a writer. It is precisely this occupation that leads to his not-inconsiderable troubles in BREATHING WATER.

Hallinan opens the book with a few short chapters that are unforgettable. You more than likely will pause momentarily after reading them, check on your loved ones and say a silent prayer of thanks to whatever higher power you address for their continued safety. The author then turns to Rafferty, who, thanks to the machinations of his friend Arthit, is in the middle of a high stakes poker game. One of the players is someone who should not be there. His name is Khun Pan, a man of unimaginable wealth and power who rose from indescribable poverty in a country where it is nearly impossible to do so. Pan is hated and feared by the powers that be and adored with a mythological fervor by the country poor, who comprise the overwhelming majority of Thailand's impoverished population. The method by which Pan bridged the immeasurable gulf between the haves and the have-nots in Thailand is one of the nation's greatest contemporary mysteries.

Rafferty understands Thailand, but not as well as he thinks; he has no idea what he is getting into when, as the stake for a hand of poker, he wants the opportunity to write Pan's biography.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on October 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Poke Rafferty books just get better and better, not only because they are terrific stories that transport you to Bangkok but also because of the strength of the supporting characters: Rose, Miaow, and Arthit get more real with each book. Hallinan is also able to create an immediate and clear picture of his minor characters as well -- his ex-spies seem spot on to me. This series is what a thriller series ought to be -- compulsively readable. More, please!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty)
This item: Breathing Water (Poke Rafferty)
Price: $11.19
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: &