Inspector Singh Investigates

A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder
A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul
The Singapore School of Villainy
A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree
A Curious Indian Cadaver
A Calamitous Chinese Killing

Shamini Flint

Piatkus 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
A book review by Danny Yee © 2013 http://dannyreviews.com/
Inspector Singh is a Sikh working for the Singapore police, whose investigations so far have taken place in Malaysia, Bali (Indonesia), Singapore, Cambodia, India and China. The series is tied together by Singh's character and the foreign settings, in which he usually ends up working unofficially, with some help from elements of the local police.

Far from religiously observant, Singh is overweight, fond of beer, curry and smoking, and wears white trainers everywhere. He is not approved of either by his wife, who is in the "she who must be obeyed" tradition, or his superiors, who don't think he fits into the culture of the force and try to keep him out of the country. Singh is something of a caricature, who doesn't really develop as a character between books, but he's an original and engaging one.

The plots involve prominent topics and high politics: in Malaysia, ethnic divides and the role of shariah family law; in Bali, a terrorist conspiracy, tourists and expatriates and Javanese migrant workers; in Singapore, a partnership of high-flying lawyers; in Cambodia, the work of the tribunal trying Khmer Rouge war crimes; in India, industrial pollution and communal conflict; and in China corruption, property development, and the suppression of falun gong. These settings are handled nicely, with no artificial information dumps, and if they sometimes follow fairly stereotypical lines that's unavoidable in an incidental presentation that has to be accessible to general readers.

What makes these novels a success, however, are their individual stories. These are entertaining and well-paced, with a bit of suspense and some surprises, and they have a good cast of characters — in almost all of them families and family connections play key roles. And Flint may not have literary pretensions, but she writes straightforward and effective prose.

There is no real progression between the novels, so they can be read in any order. If anything the later ones are better, so there might even be an argument for working backwards.

November 2013

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- books about Southeast Asia + Southeast Asian history
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%T A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder
%Y Inspector Singh Investigates
%A Flint, Shamini
%I Piatkus
%D 2009
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780749929756
%P 295pp

%T A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul
%Y Inspector Singh Investigates
%A Flint, Shamini
%I Piatkus
%D 2009
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780749929763
%P 292pp

%T The Singapore School of Villainy
%Y Inspector Singh Investigates
%A Flint, Shamini
%I Piatkus
%D 2010
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780749929770
%P 306pp

%T A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree
%Y Inspector Singh Investigates
%A Flint, Shamini
%I Piatkus
%D 2011
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780749953478
%P 310pp

%T A Curious Indian Cadaver
%Y Inspector Singh Investigates
%A Flint, Shamini
%I Piatkus
%D 2012
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780749953423
%P 308pp

%T A Calamitous Chinese Killing
%Y Inspector Singh Investigates
%A Flint, Shamini
%I Piatkus
%D 2013
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780749957797
%P 309pp