"The Ambassador's Wife", by Jake Needham

The Ambassador's Wife - Jake Needham
Book 1, In the Inspector Samuel Tay series

It was my first experience reading this author and it was most satisfying. It is always an enjoyment when a plot is expertly crafted and offers complex twists to challenge us and a good healthy dose of mystery with few grisly details. No need to look further this crime fiction set in Asia provided all of the excitement needed.

It opens with the battered body of an unidentified Caucasian woman discovered in what was supposed to be an empty room at the Singapore Marriott. A second body is found in Bangkok in a seedy apartment close to the American embassy. Both women are Americans and have been beaten viciously, shot in the head, stripped naked and crudely displayed. Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID is assigned to the case….a case that no one wants him to solve…

Samuel Tay is an unassuming protagonist, a little cranky, he definitely smokes too much, doesn't like Americans, loathes fat tourists in their shorts and flip-flops and downright gauche with women. I enjoy novel series that allows their protagonist to grow on its readers and slowly hook them. This is definitely one of them.

The story takes a while to speed up but after setting meticulously the scene, there is a very strong awareness of location and atmosphere that are vividly portrayed throughout the pages. When it takes off in supersonic mode the story is driven into dark territory of spooks while Inspector Tay holds his own against the forces tugging him away from his task. The narration is sometime funny especially when Tay describes his feelings of the authorities and Singapore’s hellish temperature. I like the dry sense of humour that occasion pops up. 

Very engaging novel in every aspect and will look forward to its sequel