This Balinese tale is the second of the Inspector Singh Investigates series and I highly recommend it.
Perhaps it is because of Australia’s losses in the Bali bombings of 2002 that this book moved me so much. Having read all seven of these excellent crime stories, I find this one especially stays with me.
This is a story about manipulation and power, about ideology and love, about disillusion and duty. As per the formula, Inspector Singh is dispatched to Bali to help with anti-terrorism investigations, despite the fact that this is certainly not his area of expertise. Fortunately for all, a murder case emerges in the midst of the bomb wreckage and Singh feels that he can sink his teeth into this at least.
The murder and the terror plot, however, are intertwined and working with Australian policewoman Bronwyn Taylor as his side-kick, Singh does eventually fulfil his original brief.
I found this a very sad story in many ways – the willing and unwilling Jihadis are drawn with a dispassionate though blunt hand by the author, leaving us to pass judgment.
The Australian tourists and expats come across as a sorry, spoilt and dysfunctional bunch. The young Balinese woman, Nuri, is abused by both her family and its Muslim circle and by the Australian man she falls for. She proves to be a willing and helpful witness for Singh and Bronwyn in the end.
Seeing things and people through Singh’s eyes, as we do, but also with the ever-present omniscient author’s eye, we develop great respect for Bronwyn. Not only is she relentlessly cheerful despite Singh’s usual grumpy exterior, but she is also a hard-working, intelligent and determined law enforcement officer.
The story, as with the reality of the 2002 Bali bombings, inevitably brings us to a tragic conclusion and allows us a glimpse of Singh’s softer underside.
If you haven’t yet begun a love affair with Inspector Singh, I urge you to start one now. Please read my posts about the Malaysian and English adventures of Inspector Singh; further articles will follow shortly about the other four books in the series.
You can also find my interview with Shamini Flint about Inspector Singh investigates – a Frightfully English Execution at https://livingartscanberra.com.au/podcasts/terror-australis-festival/ and at : https://livingartscanberra.com.au/shamini-flint-inspector-singh-investigates-a-frightfully-english-execution/, where you will also find a short book blog.