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About time and murder

This is a mini review of three books. I have been reading fairly a lot more just to clear my backlog. So here’s my review on the three books. One about time, the other two are murder investigations.
Hector finds time

After reading Hector and the Search for Happiness, I have decided to pick up Hector Finds Time to see if I can learn a thing or two out of it. I didn’t expect much out of this book because after the Hector and the Search for Happiness, the novelty of Hector’s quirky journey and complex-theory-made-simple speak started to wear off.

While the advice in The Search of Happiness was generally profound, in Hector finds time it is not so. There were a few advice or time exercise that I go “huh?” just because it didn’t draw any meaning to me, for example these two:

Time Exercise No. 19: Meet the children of the women you love loved when you were younger.

Time Exercise No. 21: If you want to look young, always stay in the shade (or candlelight)


One or two passages that I really like:

This idea of a very full life is dangerous. Because you can’t ever fill it as much as you’d like to. And you also fill it with mistakes, inevitably. What counts is sometimes feeling your life is full. Or , rather, living some moments to the full, if you like. And, what’s more, to live fully in the present, you have to empty your mind often.

The past can only exists in the present, and can very quickly go back to being the immediate future, that’s to say the future present.

There are one or two great time exercises and advices in the book. It is not a time management book. My best advice is make the best use of your time, go live your live to the fullest instead of reading this book!

Rating: two stars

Paperback. Publisher: Gallic Books 2012 Printed Length: 235 pages; Setting: France, HK, North Pole. Source: Reading Library. Finished reading on: 31 March 2013, Sunday.


I probably read this out of turn as my library lost the first in Inspector Investigates series, therefore I am starting with the second. In this second instalment, Inspector is seconded to Bali. A bomb has exploded and Singh is sent to help with finding the culprit, except Singh is not a bomb or a forensic expert but he more at home with investigating murder!

But not to worry, Inspector Singh soon finds himself in the centre of action when he found a skull hit by a bullet before the bomb went off. With the help of wily Australian policewoman Bronwyn, the murder proves to be difficult to solve. Someone is trying to use the bombing to cover up a homicide.

This is my first in the series of Inspector investigates and I must say Flint did not set out to paint Inspector Singh as an endearing character like other detective series in Asia or Africa (I shall not name names, but you know). Inspector Singh is port-bellied, make a mess of his shirt when he eats his curry, his interrogation tactic can be aggressive and he has a wry sense of humour. These traits didn’t put me off, as Inspector Singh is competent and effective. He doesn’t minced his words and he is sharp.

I like that Flint spends a little bit more time explaining the psychology of the criminals and does a very good job in describing the fact and the fiction about Bali bombing and the cruelty of it. One particular scene was a woman who accused Singh of the Bali bombing because she can’t differentiate a Singh turban from a Muslim headscarf. Flint also did a wonderful job painted the life of Bali’s denizen and their temperament. It was a pleasure to immerse in this book and revisited the places I have been to, in Bali.

This book is of special interest to me because I was there at the bomb site in Kuta 2004, two years after the Bali bombing incident which killed 88 Australians and 38 Indonesian citizens.

The Bali Bombing site in 2004.

This is what we saw when we visited the Bali Bombing site in 2004.

My husband pen down condolences for the bombing victims.

My husband pen down condolences for the bombing victims.

There was a thrilling sequence towards the end of the book. The book cover gives me an impression that Flint writes cosy murder mystery but I soon discover that the stories in the series project a cruel side of it as Flint does not hesitate when it comes to killing off some endearing and good characters. Letting us know that the good guys don’t always win and sometimes the bad guys do.

Ratingfour stars

Paperback. Publisher: Piatkus 2009 Printed Length: 292 pages; Setting: Bali, Indonesia. Source: Reading Library. Finished reading on: 5 April 2013, Friday.

Singapore School of VillainyIn the third instalment, Shamini writes about crime that happens in the country she resides, Singapore. It is also home of Inspector Singh. His wife nags him at breakfast about a young relative Jagdesh that requires match-making from relatives with good intention; and Inspector Singh’s superior the Superintendent Chen is on his case to solve the murder of a Senior Partner (Mark) in Hutchinson & Rice. This murder case takes priority as it affects the reputation of Singapore as expatriate haven and preferred choice of investment.

There was no shortage of suspects. Was it Quentin who has a drug habit? Annie Nathan, whose father always in need of money for his ‘big idea’? and what is it with Reggie and Ai Leen that Inspector Singh didn’t like? Even Inspector’s Singh relative Jagdesh seems to have something to hide. Or is it possible that the victim’s second wife Maria Thompson murdered her husband for insurance money so that she could reunite with her two children in Phillipines? Why did first wife Sarah, the ex-Mrs Thompson lied that she is with her friend Joan when she is not?

Through these characters Flint is able to paint a desponding view about the society of Singapore. In the name of money and greed, white collar crime and murder(s) are committed. I expect the third instalment to be lacklustre from the 2nd, instead it was a pleasant surprise that I would stumbled upon so much red herrings that could fill a pond, so many plot twists that derailed me in Singapore School of Villainy.

I have lived and worked in Singapore for a year and for the next 5 years visited the island at least once a year. Shamini Flint did not introduce the island or provide a flavour of it as she did in Bali, the story is more focus on the characters.

The last scene of the perpetrator in preparation of the hanging was a chilling one. As the noose is laid over the head of the perpetrator, let it be known that in Singapore (and many parts of Asia) one can be hung for drug trafficking and murder.

I love Shamini Flint’s writing. She writes with clarity and beautiful in description. I enjoyed reading both her books very much. I think she deserves to be read more widely and I will devour all books in the Inspector’s Singh series.

Ratingfour and a half stars

Paperback. Publisher: Piatkus 2010 Printed Length: 306 pages; Setting: Singapore. Source: Reading Library. Finished reading on: 12 April 2013, Friday.


About the writer:

Shamini Flint (born October 26, 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) is an author based in Singapore. She is best known for her crime fiction novel series Inspector Singh Investigates, published in many languages around the world. She also writes children’s books with cultural and environmental themes. Before becoming a writer in 2004 she was a corporate lawyer at the international law firm. She is noted for her work to promote fair trade products in Singapore and donates part of her environmental book title’s proceeds to WWF.

In 1993, Shamini received the Council of Legal Education Prize for one of the highest marks overall for her Bar Finals sat at Trinity College, London. Following which Shamini was employed by Messrs. Zain & Co and called to the Malaysian Bar. Between 1994 and 1995 Shamini studied for her Law Masters at the University of Cambridge, UK. She left Messrs Zain & Co in 1997 to join Linklaters as a Solicitor until 2002 when she became an Associate Professor of the Law Faculty, National University of Singapore.

Shamini currently lives in Singapore with her English husband Simon Flint and their two children.

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


6 thoughts on “About time and murder

  1. Hmm…didn’t know you read these as well! Wow! Thou art a voracious wolf in books, hehe! I am searching for the next ‘ let me read and forget the world outside’ book – have any to recommend?

    Posted by Soul Muser | April 14, 2013, 6:12 am
  2. I hadn’t heard of Shamini Flint until the past weeks or so. She appeared in recent episode of the Australian TV Book Club if you’re interested (March 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/tv/firsttuesday/video/default.htm?tab=2013). Interesting person!

    Posted by mee | April 14, 2013, 11:07 am
  3. thanks for review the inspector singh books I had seen them online mention wondered what they were like ,I may try one myself ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | April 15, 2013, 5:00 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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