I used to avoid the crime/mystery shelves at the library. You could find me in fiction, non-fiction, science fiction and fantasy, magazines etc but not the crime/mystery sections. Not until recently.
Perhaps I was unsure of where to begin, which series were good, which writers actually wrote well instead of just churning out book after book in factory-style mass production.
So I’ve been playing catch up.
Partly because of the very many series that have come from countries afar. Like Iceland or Sweden. And in this case, Southeast Asia.
Flint has created an interesting, somewhat different policeman in Inspector Singh, who hails from Singapore and is too fond of his food, resulting in a rather portly figure. Authoritative and imposing, but a little on the round side.
“Singh took a deep breath. He smelt the spicy warm scent of ikan bakar, fish wrapped in banana leaf, on the hotel barbecue. His nostril hairs quivered appreciatively. Wherever he was, the smell of cooking food was always enticing. Singh grimaced – even by his own standards it seemed callous to be longing for dinner at such a time. His ample stomach immediately protested his conclusion, rumbling like a distant storm. The policeman shrugged and ordered a cold Bintang beer and a nasi goreng. After all, one had to eat. He wouldn’t be helping anyone by eschewing food. Not, he thought ruefully, that he was helping anyone anyway.”
Inspector Singh is the Singapore Police Force’s representative in Bali after the aftermath of the Sari Club bombings (based on the real 2002 bombings which killed 202 people and injured many more).
This is rather curious as he is no terrorism expert but an investigator of murders (Singapore has to keep its terrorism experts around to protect its own shores).
And conveniently, there is a murder for Singh to solve.
For the police have found the skull fragment of a man who was killed before the bomb went off.
A fun read, set against a bit of a grim background. It isn’t quite hard to see where the story is going despite the myriad of characters that Flint tosses in (perhaps one too many?). But Inspector Singh, “a throwback to the old school – hardworking, hard-drinking, chain-smoking”, not to mention food-loving, makes for an amusing character whose cases take him to unusual and refreshing locations – in terms of crime series at least – as the series is set mostly in Southeast Asia.
You know, I just realised that I have read this series out of order. Silly me. Still it works fine on its own, and it didn’t feel like I was reading the second book in a series (which is probably why I only realised it now) and now I’m curious to see how the first book, A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, will work having read the second one!
I am guessing that I wouldn’t fare too well as a police inspector….