Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Inspector Singh Investigates: A Frightfully English Execution by Shamini Flint

First Sentence:  “We know what we’ve got to do, right, lads?”
      
Inspector Singh may not be well liked by his superiors, but no one can deny his clear rate for murder cases.  So why are they sending him to England where he’s to attend a conference on policing in London, and his wife is coming with him.  There, he is supposed to investigate a cold case, but only in theory.  Not one to be satisfied with that, Singh is on the trail of the actual killer and finds another similar case.  Unfortunately, his wife decides to help her husband, and could well be the next victim.
      
Flint opens with a scene we all know is happening, yet dread.  At least, in this case, it was stopped.
      
In spite of the seriousness of the theme, Flint is very adept at using humor as a balance, as when Singh’s wife talks about George, third in line for the British throne—‘He’s not the heir then, is he?”  ‘He will be when the rest die,’ which is then followed with a quote from Shakespeare, and Flint's acknowledgement of lingering spirits—“There were no chalk marks on the wooden floor…nothing to suggest that a murder had once been done here.  And yet, the hair on Singh’s neck stood up and he felt suddenly cold inside his heavy suede coat.  Was the ghost of Fatima Daud tethered to this place…?”
      
There is nothing better than an author who makes one stop and consider—“Cold cases.  The mark of Cain for a policeman, indicating a failure to achieve the one and only goal of policing—the apprehension of the person responsible for the crime.  The right person, mind you, the guilty party.”
      
One of the most fascinating things about this look is that it provides a view of an urban Muslim community from the perspective of a Sikh.  In one short exchange, Flint both defines the mindset of terrorists, and the fallacy of it.  It is always fascinating learning information about other countries, particularly through the eyes of someone else who is foreign to that country, and it is equally interesting seeing Mrs. Singh’s perspective, as well.  Singh’s method of assessing a new restaurant is worth remembering. 
      
Although one could go one waxing rhapsodic, over Flint’s humor and dialogue, as well as the perspective of her characters, it is also important to mention her skill with the plot itself, and her use of well-timed, very good plot twists that continuously build the sense of tension and surprise as the various threads of the story being to join. 
      
Inspector Singh Investigates:  A Frightfully English Execution” is so well done on every level; characters, humor, suspense, overall quality of the writing, and most of all, perspective of cultures unknown to, and misunderstood by, most of us.  There is so much more here than there seems. 

INSPECTOR SINGH INVESTIGATES:  A FRIGHTFULLY ENGLISH EXECUTION (Pol Proc-Ins. Singh-England-Contemp) – Ex
      Flint, Shamini – 7th in series
      Piatkus, 2016

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