Shamani Flint is a Cambridge Law grad who wrote her first novel about a Sikh police inspector named Singh. He’s fat, sweaty and unpopular with his superiors in Singapore. He is sent to Kuala Lumpur to investigate the murder charges against a popular model from Singapore accused of killing her Chinese husband. The wife, Chelsea Liew, was a teenage crush of the Inspector’s. The husband, Alan Lee, was a very wealthy timber baron and a wife beater, who womanized while his youngest brother ran the Company and his older brother walked away from the business and campaigned against the environmental rape of the rich Malaysian forests. Singh gets grudging cooperation from local Insp. Mohammed and is assigned Sgt. Shukor to make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble. Singh is convinced of Chelsea’s innocence but the case against her looks bad. Not only did her husband abuse her, but he recently converted to Islam, and under Shari'a law minor children belong to the Islamic parent, even after death. Chelsea had threatened to kill him to keep her kids away from him.
Chelsea is eventually released due to the confession of the oldest brother Jasper. Singh doesn’t believe in his guilt either. He turns to the details of Alan’s life to find the real murderer. Alan’s newest mistress turns out to be the ex-girlfriend of his oldest son, who is seen arguing with his father on surveillance tape. Then there is the ecologist whose native wife and unborn child were murdered by thugs employed by the timber company. Singh has to overcome his disgust for the hot, dirty, teeming streets of the city, so different from his home in squeaky-clean Singapore, as well as try to convince his minder, Sgt. Shukor and his boss Insp. Mohammed, that there are many different avenues to explore. Initially resentful of this stranger in their midst, they eventually become allies in the search for the truth.
There is a lot of humor in this book, mostly inadvertent, as Singh bumbles his way along. This is the first in a series of travelogue mysteries for Singh, since his superiors try to keep him away from Singapore as much as possible. I have already put a hold on the next mystery, set in Bali. I can’t wait to see what Inspector Singh comes up against next.