Series: Inspector Singh Investigates #2
Genres: Detective Mystery
Published by Piatkus on 1 January 2010
This novel hits quite close to home as it was only in 2002 and again in 2005 when Bali was bombed. Shamini Flint definitely doesn’t shy away from unpleasant and what some would consider taboo topics. The fat man is back and this time he is hunting an opportunistic murderer. A bomb is detonated in Bali and when police recover the bodies, they discover one of the skull fragments has a bullet hole in it.
I really enjoyed the character of Inspector Singh – he’s fat, sweaty, smokes like a chimney and has a habit of ticking off people in authority. He is also seemingly Johnny on the spot whenever devious crimes in South East Asia are being committed. Bronwyn is a worthy foil and keeps him on track even though he finds her attitude disruptive and irritating. Now we get to the difficult part of the review…Flint focuses on two main groups that have been affected by the initial bombing, a group of expatriates and would-be terrorists who are planning on setting off another bomb in Bali. The expatriates are a fairly unlikeable bunch and while the terrorists in the making are quite fascinating. Each of the men had distinctly different motives for being involved in this project even though it was ostensibly to teach the infidels a lesson. Flint allowed them a degree of humanity which I appreciated. It would have been far easier to make them two dimensional villains that cackled manically while they plotted everyone’s downfall. I doubt this was an easy decision given the public sentiment of many towards the real Bali bombers. The character of Nuri, the wife of Ghani, is particularly tragically rendered.
The plot moves much faster than A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder and at times it seemed too fast for Inspector Singh. His style of investigation is not suited to an action-packed novel as it involves interviewing people over and over to uncover another layer of their involvement. There are no easy answers in this book and given the topic, I think that is best. The terrorist aspect of this novel made me quite uncomfortable as it was based on real events. I watched the news footage of the bombings and even shed a few tears as parents of the victims were interviewed. This novel bought all of those old emotions back. I guess I like to be just a little more removed from reality when reading than I initially thought.
I can’t say I enjoyed reading this novel given the content but I am glad I did. Flint deserves kudos for bringing humanity to controversial topics. Once again, the ideas behind it stayed with me for some time after I turned the last page.