Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of Villainy Paperback
Part of the Inspector Singh Investigates Series series
Inspector Singh is home - and how he wishes he wasn't.
His wife nags him at breakfast and his superiors are whiling away their time by giving him his usual 'you're a disgrace to the force' lecture.
Fortunately for Singh, there is no rest for the wicked when he is called out to the murder of a senior partner at an international law firm, clubbed to death at his desk.
Unfortunately for Singh, there is no shortage of suspects - from the victim's fellow partners to his wife and ex-wife - or motives, as many of the lawyers have secrets they would kill to protect. And very soon Singh finds himself heading up an investigation that rips apart the fabric of Singapore society and exposes the rotten core beneath.
Perhaps coming home wasn't such a good idea, after all...?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 01/04/2010
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780749929770
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by JulesJones
Inspector Singh is back, but for a change his superiors aren't intent in temporarily ridding themselves of him by lending him to a neighbouring country's police force. This time the high profile murder is a lot closer to home, in the Singapore offices of an international law firm. The overweight, chain-smoking policeman in white trainers may be a disgrace to the force, but he's also very good at his job. Who better to lead the investigation into the brutal murder of the law firm's senior partner?For once he has all the resources of the police force to call upon. This is a high profile case involving wealthy, influential expatriates who bring enormous value to the country, and the police administration wants it solved. But the flipside for Singh is being forced to treat the suspects a good more gently than he'd like. Not that Singh is into police brutality, but keeping both suspects and innocents with useful information off balance is part of his toolkit. He has to think of more devious means to achieve it than simply dragging them down to the nick for a surprise interview.But as Singh starts digging, he keeps being handed potential motives. Mark Thompson had called a after-hours meeting at short notice of the senior lawyers in the office, and it's probable that someone killed him to stop him disclosing whatever it was he'd discovered was going on behind the scenes. Too many of the lawyers have something to hide, and their attempts to cover up their secrets only end up making each of them look potentially guilty of murder. Then there's the current wife and the ex-wife of the murdered man, each set on blaming the other, and with good reason. It's a long, slow process of solving each individual mystery, and Singh is going to need those resources he has on tap. Singh has always been clearly portrayed as a Sikh, but in this book we see his home life, and his ties into the Sikh social network and culture. All the more so because by an unfortunate coincidence that causes him a great deal of grief during the investigation, the distant nephew of his wife who didn't show up to a "meet the local relatives" dinner turns out not to have done so because he was one of the lawyers called to the meeting with Mark Thompson. Singh's quite capable of keeping family and business separate, but others don't always see it that way.The book as a whole does an excellent job of portraying Singapore and its particular blend of tension between expats and locals, and between different ethnicities. Even within the law office, sexism and racism amongst the expats from assorted countries provide fuel for crime -- and the racism isn't just whites considering themselves superior to locals.Flint does a superb job of blending social commentary with a solidly written police procedural. Singh with his understanding of human nature has echoes of the best Miss Marple and Poirot stories, but he's very much his own man, in his own skillfully drawn setting. As with previous books, he's a joy of a character to read about, but here we learn more about him -- and about his home city. Flint has drawn on her own experience of being a Malaysian lawyer in Singapore to produce a richly detailed story with a cast of vividly written characters.It's relatively light in tone, although it doesn't pull away from showing the harsher side of Singapore law, and there are some emotionally wrenching moments. A great read, and you don't need to have read either of the previous books in the series to enjoy this one.
Review by austcrimefiction
For those reading the Inspector Singh Investigates series in order, THE SINGAPORE SCHOOL OF VILLAINY is the third book. Given these are a series, is it necessary to read them in order? Whilst there's always something gained when reading books in the order that the author wrote them, this is a case where I'm not sure you need to be too obsessive about it. Of course, from the start you'll get to know the good Inspector a little more, but to be honest, there's not a lot of expansion of character going on here. It's obvious that Singh's constantly in trouble with his superiors, that he's a lone operator (think less lone wolf and more determined fox), that his wife doesn't understand him, that his methods are slightly unorthodox and that he's a "bit of a character".What may help a little is to realise that Singh moves around quite a bit (the first book is set in Malaysia, the second in Bali) but in this book he's at home in Singapore. Which nobody, not his bosses, not his wife, not even Singh are particularly best pleased about. What may also help is to realise that despite Singh sounding suspiciously like an Asian Poirot wannabe, and the covers of the book seeming to signal something slightly on the cosier side of crime fiction, well... (sorry can't avoid the pun) you should never judge a book by its cover (or an Inspector by his description). You can, however rely on the suggestion that there's a sly sense of humour behind these books... something that is even more apparent if you're ever lucky enough to come across the author herself, who took to writing after a career in the law, but really could have been just as successful as a stand up comedian.The Inspector Singh series tackles difficult themes, in different places, but with a tone and style that veers away from too much confrontation. Definitely not cosy, but equally not overly dark, Flint takes the reader into some tricky territory on occasions, using her Inspector Singh character as a foil for the worst excesses of humanity. A detective from the "ask a few awkward questions, appear at the worst time in the suspect's life" school of detecting, Singh's physique isn't going to allow him to do a lot of rushing around, and his personality doesn't fit that bill either. In THE SINGAPORE SCHOOL OF VILLAINY he's even more grumpy and more difficult, seemingly going out of his way to agitate everyone around him, whilst blithely believing that they are, in turn, out to annoy him every step of the way. Part of the trick in enjoying these books is really all about setting your expectations correctly. If you are a huge fan of the very cosy; of mannered, polite and very English detecting, then Inspector Singh is probably not going to be totally to your taste. I also don't always come away from the books with an overwhelmingly strong sense of the individual places. But I do find myself warming to Inspector Singh. If you're a fan of slightly more edgy than just entertaining books, centred around a central character who's a little bit grumpy, a little bit rumpled, a little bit hot and bothered, more than a bit tricky, and more than occasionally a big bit slyly funny, then this could be the series for you.
Review by hirotani
A very enjoyable read that brought back memories of living and working in Singapore. It captures the places, the food, the attitudes and prejudices of the different ethnic groups that make up the city very well. In terms of food it also captures the importance that Singaporeans put on food - whatever time of day (or night) almost the first comment from a Singaporean to a friend will be about food - "your've had your breakfast" or lunch or dinner etc. I personally found the practice of putting local words into italics a bit irritating but I suppose understandable if you don't them. As least the author wisely didn't explain each every use of every word. The book is well written, very easy to read and very enjoyable to read. Unfortunately, as a "who dun it" it is the not the greatest - being fairly easily guessable and guessable from early on in the book. But that didn't destroy the story for me. By a few chapters into the book I was more tied up on wanting to know how Inspector Singh was conducting the investigation and less interested in the final outcome. I highly recommend it.
Review by Clifford.Terry
Enjoyable light reading.