In a nutshell
Inspector Singh from Singapore has been sent to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to solve the murder of a Malaysian heir, Alan Lee. His ex-wife, Chelsea Liew is on death row for for this murder, but she swears she didn’t do it and Inspector Singh thinks so too. However, he couldn’t find any other suspects who have a stronger motive that hers: Alan was taking her kids away from her and he was having an affair.
What I liked
Making the murder of a Chinese-turned-Muslim as its main story is a tricky one, especially when it touches other sensitive issues in Malaysia as well. But Flint managed to weave in the political and racial issues in Malaysia very carefully. She chose them very wisely too. A great eye opener to those who aren’t familiar with the ‘Malaysian culture’ or what’s happening in the country at the moment.
For example: “‘…Maybe she bribed the police to let her out?” She added as an afterhought in case this should reflect badly on her brother, “Malaysian police, I mean. Singapore police cannot bribe, also.'”
“…The Chinese woman across the fence said, ‘My son says very easy one to bribe when you are caught in a speed trap.’
This sentiment drew no censure from the policeman’s sister. ‘Ya, you are right, but speeding…murder, different, lah!'”
She also brought in some Malaysian culture into her story, while sometimes comparing it to Singapore’s. One that I particularly liked was about the cars in Malaysia (p.191) and how true this is!
“‘A tiny island, the government was desperate that Singapore should not turn into a parking lot, so it invested in public transport and kept cars expensive. As a result, cars had real value and owners looked after them.”
“In Malaysia, Singh guessed, there were no such incentives. So old men ferried their extended families around in beat-up vans with six or seven kids hanging out of the windows and waving to the other cars. Salesmen drove ancient run-arounds. Thirty-year-old Mercedes Benz doubled up as taxis. Motorbikes weaved in and out of traffic. Small cars with 500cc engines, basically motorbikes with a body, raced along the fast lane at murderous speeds.'”
And I liked the twist at the end – the unexpected murderer 😉
What could have been done better
The flow of the story. It didn’t feel like it flowed smoothly. I’m not an expert in this field; just sharing it from a reader’s point of view. Also at times, I find the pace a little uneven – some parts were a little draggy and information was stretched in one page or a few paragraphs, and I couldn’t feel like I was part of the story, causing me to turn a few pages, asking myself, ‘how long is this gonna be??’. The pace did pick up a little from page 100 onwards.
Some of the conversations felt ‘stilted’. I find the Malaysian slang in certain parts were ‘forced’ into them.
The book cover and font type were abit ‘misleading’ (?). Judging from the cover and title, I was expecting something funny (probably some shenanigans the Inspector got himself into or something like that). I thought I was the only one who was expecting such, until my bro and a few of my friends who saw me with it, asked me if it was funny. Book covers and font type do kinda ‘prepare’ the reader in anticipating the tone of the story.
My verdict? 3/5
Book bite: Inspector Singh’s next exciting adventures: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul and Singapore School of Villainy.
Thanks for the book Pansing! 🙂