Tell you, gotta love the internet and this whole global village vibe.
Here is the tale of an online comment from a South African friend in Cape Town, about a book I reviewed, sitting here in Delhi, about Shanghai (you are following me here?) in which she recommended Shamini Flint’s books about a Singaporean detective. After reading just the first book, I am already a loyal fan. Books 2 and 3 already downloaded and ready to go.
Inspector Singh is going to be a great character, and a hugely likeable one at that. I just know it.
A middle aged, overweight Singaporean Sikh, we meet him at Changi Airport, waiting to fly to Malaysia, where he has been sent to work on a case that sounds distinctly like a poisoned chalice.
Alan Lee, a wealthy Malaysian tycoon has been shot, and his estranged Singaporean wife, with whom he was locked in a bitter religious-based custody battle, has been arrested for his murder. And that is why Inspector Singh is in Kuala Lumpur. To try and find who murdered Alan Lee and to try and protect the interests of his fellow citizen, Chelsea Liew.
Inspector Singh is fully aware that he is regarded as an oddity in the Singapore police force – he knows he is considered as the unofficial “most likely to be forced into early retirement” candidate. And this tricky, convoluted case, which has all of Malaysia and Singapore gripped by its high-voltage drama and religious implications, is his, and his alone, to solve.
Just look at Inspector Singh for a moment.
He is a smoker in Singapore, of all nanny states to live in.
He wears white sneakers instead of sensible black shoes.
He has (possibly) too many pens in his shirt pocket.
He eats too much, he smokes too much, and he really can’t be bothered with excessive procedure.
He is a guts feel copper of the old school, and only wants to get results – arrest the murderer – regardless of political fallout and considerations.
As I said, hugely likeable and an instantly great character.
Ms Flint is a confident and eloquent storyteller, and shines lights on many aspects of Malaysia, as only an insider can. Religion, for one, and the frightening ramifications it can have for a family. The environment – the brutal deforestation of Borneo is a very palpable presence in this murder investigation. The author highlights cultural nuances and differences with a consummate light hand.
Inspector Singh – a Sikh, of Indian origin – is wearily aware of global ignorance about dark men in turbans.
Chelsea Liew, caught up in a from-beyond-the-grave tale of horrors, develops before our very eyes from a resigned monosyllabic hostile victim to a woman of huge courage, whom we cheer for all the way – well I did, and as for the final glimpse we have of her…Don’t worry, no plot-spoiler here, but our final moments with Chelsea are heart-stopping and gripping, that’s all I’ll say.
Read this great book for a thoroughly enjoyable whodunnit, as well as for a portrait of a country and her people.
If you feel like buying the book after reading the review, it couldn’t be easier. Simply click on the links below: