‘The Umbrella Man’ by Jake Needham


*****

When bombs explode in three American hotels in the heart of Singapore, Inspector Sam Tay is close by – so close by that he is injured and spends several days in hospital. On waking, he is disturbed to learn that he won’t be involved in investigating the bombings and has instead been assigned to what appears to be a routine murder inquiry. But Sam discovers that the dead man is strangely familiar and is hiding a secret that only the pathologist can find. As his investigation progresses, the ISD (Internal Security Department) seem keen that he should wrap things up pretty quickly, but Sam has other ideas.

This is the second book in the Samuel Tay series and the third I’ve read by Jake Needham. As with the others, it’s a heck of a good read. The unfolding mystery weaves back and forth like a basket-maker on speed, throwing up ever-more increasing difficulties as Sam finds his investigation blocked by just about everyone in the city. Then, when he does get a breakthrough, it’s about as unexpected as you can get. What I love about this series is that Tay never tries to be clever and often appears out of his depth, struggling to know what he should say and do. And then there’s the rather unorthodox help he gets from his dead mother…

Mr Needham’s writing is clever without seeming to be and there’s an underlying vein of humour throughout the book that kept me amused while trying to work out the identity of the killer. If you love a cracking good mystery with an unconventional detective, dig into the Inspector Samuel Tay novels now.


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