I came to the Poke Rafferty series through the back door--started with the newer Hollywood cat burglar books. "The Queen of Patpong" just cements my admiration for the phenomenal writing skills of Timothy Hallinan. The guy has an amazing wit and gift for crafting wonderful characters who have wholly believable emotional range and motivation and are credible even when they are pushed under extreme stress into some pretty violent action.
"The Queen..." is packed with great characters for sure, but it also has some of the best action scenes I've read in a very long time. The story line--the return of a vicious serial killer to Bangkok who aims to murder protagonist Rafferty's ex-bar girl wife and annihilate her entire family--has plenty of chase sequences, compelling action and a highly satisfying ending.
The book has been well reviewed and highly praised, so I'll just add that it is a great read for both mystery fans and for readers who just enjoy good fiction.