When international politics takes over a murder case, the truth is the next victim.
Identical murder scenes in two different countries, one shortly after the other. Both are American women; shot, their faces pulped beyond recognition. The first, found in a room at the Marriott Hotel, is eventually identified by finger-prints to be the wife of the Ambassador to Singapore, the second to be the US Ambassador to Thailand herself, found in a seedy compartment near the American Embassy in Bangkok.
Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID meets with the Ambassador of Singapore who insists that although he and his wife were having problems, he has nothing to do with her death, and was on a commercial flight at the time. According to the FBI, the murder is terrorism, which seems to be confirmed when the Thailand Ambassador is murdered in Bangkok. But the lurid arrangement of the bodies does not, for Inspector Sam Tay, align with terrorism.
The American security agent assigned to the case admits to also having some doubts, and on impulse invites Tay to fly to Bangkok with her to take a look at the other crime scene. There, Tay meets a retired ex-agent, John August, who seems to know more than he should about all sorts…
The plot is intriguing, but Sam Tay is more so. He is a bit of a Morse; abrupt, even rude to his assistant, Sergeant Robbie Kang, who, like Lewis, puts up with it because Sam stubbornly gets to the bottom of the cases allotted to them. But Sam is timid in his way, self doubting and always at odds with his own behaviour. He smokes too much, is overweight and self effacing. His mother has just passed away in New York, and because they were not close, logic, of which Sam has plenty, dictates that he not attend the funeral. But a sense of guilt nags him, too.
This is our very pleasurable intro to Sam Tay, and if this was my first, I would have looked forward to meeting him again. However, I have already met him in his next-but-one of the series, THE DEAD AMERICAN, reviewed by BOOKPOSTMORTEM on 23/02/2016. Filling the gap with the second in the series, THE UMBRELLA MAN, is definitely on my bucket list.
Keep them coming, please, Jake Needham!