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    Minotaur, July 2010

    Inspector Singh is trouble, so when his Singapore police superiors need to send someone to Malaysia to ensure that a Singapore citizen who's been arrested for murder receives a fair investigation, Singh is the obvious candidate. If he fails, they can fire him. If he succeeds, at least he's out of their hair. Singh understands the politics, but when he meets the beautiful woman who's accused of murdering her abusive husband, he doesn't believe she killed. Unfortunately, when another man confesses, Singh doesn't believe that, either. Unable to resist the beautiful woman's entreaties, Singh goes on leave from his job to look for the real killer.

    Although Alan Lee is dead, and nobody much regrets his loss, his influence lingers on. The corrupt timber company he ran (when he wasn't too busy chasing women or beating his wife) continues on under his even more corrupt brother. And the cynical conversion to Islam he began in order to gain custody of his children (under Malaysian Law, civil courts cannot interfere with Moslem courts), is still in the books, meaning that ex-model Chelsea Liew is likely to lose her children een though Alan is dead. It seems that nobody really had a motive to kill Alan, other than the need to rid the world of one particularly disgusting leach.

    Author Shamini Flint uses the justaposition of Singapore and Malaysia to describe a fascinating and often-tragic part of the world. The indigenous tribesmen are being wiped out to allow timbering on tribal lands while Malaysia balances between Islamic and civil law. Meanwhile, the city-state of Singapore, while physically connected to Malaysia, has its own, ultra-clean existance apparently separated from its near-neighbors by more than border posts. Inspector Singh makes an intriguing character with his problems back home, his difficulties with his sister, his crush on Chelsea, and his need to work with Malaysian policemen who want nothing more than for him to go home and leave them alone.

    Flint's writing is smooth and engaging, and A MOST PECULIAR MALAYSIAN MURDER is a pleasant read. I would have liked to see more integration between some of the story elements, and a more direct connection between Singh and the ultimate solution to the murder. As Flint spins the story, Singh really didn't end up doing much to solve the case...which is not what I look for in a police procedural.

    Overall, PECULIAR is enjoyable for its depiction of a world I'm not otherwise familiar with, for some nice characterization, and very good writing. I would have liked to see a bit more focus on solving the mystery, but that didn't keep me from enjoying this story.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/06/10

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