Shamini Flint – Inspector Singh investigates: The Singapore School of Villainy

The third of the Inspector Singh investigates stories
Piatkus 2010

In each of Inspector Singh’s adventures, Shamini Flint takes us on a cultural exploration. These are crime stories which delve into the specifics of cultural mores, history and human behavior. Super reads every one of them. Thus it is I crave your indulgence in writing about all seven of them, though the first was published back in 2009 – A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder.

In this book Inspector Singh is, unusually, home in Singapore, and is called out to investigate the brutal murder of a senior partner in an international law firm. There is a vast array of possible suspects, so many of the people associated with the firm being up to no good one way or another. In true Christiean form, money really is the root of all evil.

The interesting issue of the Indian family is again an important aspect of this novel, as with the others in the series. Not only does the character of Mrs Singh get a little more exposure, but also the matter of obligation to a string of distant relatives and the constant interest in marrying people off to a desirable match. This is a domestic/cultural level to the book, which provides a backdrop to the crime story and is cleverly interwoven with it.

Drugs, insider trading, sex, marital dispute, hypocrisy, the politics of colonial economics and the unequal delivery of justice, all get a good thrashing in The Singaporean School of Villainy. High level villainy is reduced to its rightful place as just another version of base and nasty crime and the exterior layers of deceit and obfuscation of the people of the book are systematically peeled away by our astute inspector hero.

Shamini Flint always gives us a working foil for the inspector – Corporal Fong is Singh’s side-kick in the Singapore mystery. Singh tries his patience and endurance by giving him seemingly mindless tasks, but he emerges, as we would expect, a better policeman for it. And then we get the good news that Singh has another adventure shortly to come through his old associate, Inspector Mohammed.

Singh is such a strongly drawn character that we feel we know him well, even at this early stage of the series. He’s a formidable and insightful warrior for justice, cloaked in a messy exterior and white sneakers.

If you haven’t yet begun your love affair with Inspector Singh, I highly recommend that you start one now. You can find blogs about the previous two books, set in Malaysia and Bali, on the Reading List pages. I’m getting to writing about the others in the series as fast as I can – they were a joy to read in order during our long and smoky summer here in Canberra.

You can 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.