Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder
by Shamini Flint
"He had learnt from the Penan not to sweat the things he could not change."
I'm really glad I picked up this first Inspector Singh novel, having not come across this writer before. Shamini Flint is based in Singapore and is closely connected to Malaysia - which means she brings to life both cultures in this book effortlessly. When you find out more about the writer and see she is also an environmental activist, you realise how close to her heart some of the book's plot is.
I have never traveled to Asia and so really enjoyed a little bit of insight into the culture. In the same way as I enjoy the encounters with contemporary China in Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Cheng's books, I found discovering aspects of Malaysian culture an unexpected bonus to the mystery plot.
I read the novel n over a week - the language lets you understand the characters and the world they live in and creates strong images of their environment. In a way it reminds me of many TV who-dunnits, where suspicion bounces from one person to another.
As I finished the book, I was really pleased to see there are two more paperbacks available (one set in Bali, the other in Singapore) and one taking place in Cambodia to be released in 2011.
If you like the sound of this one, I also recommend Qiu Xiaolong's 'When Red is Black'.
And if you can point me in the direction of other writers that come to mind, please leave a comment here - or two!