Cathy of the Kittling:Books blog has been writing about Inspector Singh books for a while now and her reviews were so funny I just had to try one. I borrowed this one from the library. It turns out Cathy is right; I'm going to look for the rest of the series now.
Inspector Singh is a police detective in Singapore. For this case he has been sent to Kuala Lumpur to investigate the case of a former model from Singapore who has been accused of killing her ex-husband. Since Singh is obese and unused to Kuala Lumpur, he sweats, gets his shiny shoes dusty, unwillingly visits his gossipy sister, faces down the opposition of the local police force to his intrusion, and resents his minder.
The victim, Alan Lee, was the president of a huge logging company which has been clear-cutting in Borneo and causing all kinds of violent trouble for the people and animals on that island. Lee was a wife beater, and cheated on his gorgeous wife frequently as he enjoyed his money and let his youngest brother run the company. The middle brother, Jasper, is an ecologist investigating his younger brother's misuse of power. Meanwhile, the victim's wife had divorced him but was in danger of losing her children because Alan Lee had converted to Islam before he died and the Islamic Court would probably rule against letting the children be raised by a non-Moslem woman.
Now all this is very serious stuff, but Singh is unconsciously hilarious. The contrast between him and the others on the case is, as author Shamini Flint writes, "Mohammad led the way, walking with long-limbed elegance. Shukor padded silently in his wake, Singh lumbered after them. A study in physical contrasts, they looked like a procession that was not just walking along a corridor but up the evolutionary chain as well."
Flint is a writer with a light touch but her characters are drawn swiftly and precisely. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Kuala Lumpur, especially when Singh got lost in the city. You think of a sharp detective as a man who can chase suspects, is an excellent shot, yet cerebral. Singh is anything but this kind of detective but he surely gets the job done. He's a great character and I liked this book very much.