I’ve followed Tim Hallinan and his protagonist Poke Rafferty all over Bangkok with enthusiasm, but this is my first time with him and Simeon GristThe Man With No Time in L.A. Though Grist is, like Rafferty, kind of a well-meaning klutz of an investigator, he is not just a Rafferty clone set down in a different habitat.
For one thing, he has no pretensions about being a writer, so his world view is never cluttered up by some of the authorial sensibilities and professional concerns that Rafferty has. Second, though he has an Asian wife, she is Chinese-American, with emphasis on the “American,” was never a stripper, and the two don’t have a household together—at least not in this novel. And there’s no street kid semi-daughter.
Like other of Hallinan’s books, though, there’s a social conflict at the center of the thrills and chase. In this instance it’s human slavery. Specifically, Taiwan to L.A. with Vietnamese acting often as patsies and intermediaries. Lots of fun following Garound making mistakes that get him and others beat up and sliced up. There’s even a missionary involved who’s crucial in saving his bacon.
Well-crafted, exciting, and a bit of a message on top of it. What more do you want from an airplane book?