(creator: Shamani Flint)
|Inspector Singh is a chain-smoking Sikh policeman, described as "dishevelled, overweight and bearded". He is five foot six inches tall but looking taller in his his turban which he is hardly ever without. He loves good food and drink, especially hot curries and ice cold beer. He is not too popular with his superiors who are only too happy to send him on missions abroad. Despite his apparently blundering ways, he is nothing if not persistent and and "with his usual intuitive insight" makes a skilled interviewer, and "despite appearances, it would have been a brave man who bet against Inspector Singh if it came down to the survival of the fittest."
He is an engaging character but, unfortunately for this particular website, does not seem to observe his religion in any way, beyond wearing his turban. So it is stretching things to call him a clerical detective, but there are so few Sikh detectives (there is also Inspector Singh but I cannot really recommend him), that I decided to include him just the same! But, for this reason, I shall only be reviewing the first book in the series.
Shamani Flint (1969 - ) was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She took her Bar Finals at Trinity College, London, before studying for her Law Master's degree at Cambridge University. She became a solicitor in England before returning to Malaysia where she was called to the Malaysian bar. She worked at an international law firm in Singapore and travelled extensively around Asia for her work, before resigning to be a stay-at-home mum, writer, and art-time lecturer and environmental activist.
Inspector Singh Investigates: a Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder. (2008)
It makes an interesting story, all the more so because of its affectionate portrayal of the Malaysian background. Even minor characters such as Singh's sister come alive, as when we are told that she loved explaining: "That clothes dryer, my son bought for me as a present. He is doing very well, you know, and doesn't want his old mother to work too hard." But "She never actually used it. Baljit was not convinced that clothes squashed into a dryer would get a proper airing."
Interesting too is Singh's growing rapport with the bright young Malaysian Sergeant Shukor, who had been told "to shadow the troublesome policeman from across the border. His unofficial mandate was to encourage him to leave as soon as possible by any means, including being obstructive. But he found himself actively helping out .... He had listened in on the interviews - admiring the way the inspector had mastered the use of silence as a weapon". So he was happy to learn from him.
Singh found he was enjoying himself: "It might be about Chelsea but he thought it was also partly because he was not in Singapore. There, constrained by superiors who distrusted him, colleagues who were suspicious of his methods, subordinates who feared him and the endless red tape that engulfed any investigation, he did not have the freedom to follow his own instincts so single-mindedly. But here he was functioning partly as a private investigator and partly as some consultant flown in for his two cents worth of advice. It had led to a feeling of freedom from the normal constraints of police work."
He never seems to practise his faith and there is no reference to it, although we are told that "for a man with as many enemies as Alan Lee to be finally bumped off by a stranger would require a divine providence with a sense of irony and that was not a possibility that Singh was prepared to give credence to." What he would be prepared to give credence to is never explained. But that is not where the author's interest lay. Her concern was in exploring Asian life and the relationship between people of different races and religions, and in this she succeeds very well. It all makes an intriguing read.
|The cover is bold and effective.|