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The Dead American is not a “fictionalized account of the death of Shane Todd,” writes Jake Needham. “What is very much the same in both stories, however, is the Republic of Singapore.”

Tay is fast approaching fifty. He’s still the same – doesn’t read news papers, struggles with his mobile phone, hasn’t yet got an email. He’s still the champion of smoking and is definitely old school holding onto the last vestiges of personal freedom. It’s an offence to throw cigarette butts on the ground in Singapore.

One dead software developer, and Inspector Tay suspended from the police force, a Wall Street reporter offers him a job as a researcher to solve the case of Tyler, the American who died under mysterious circumstances, but covered up as a suicide by the Singapore Police Force. Tay’s dead mother appears to him, in his subconscious, in his garden. With some prodding and her insistence, he takes on the case. Tay’s mother appears through out the book, and the ruminating of Tay are clinically hilarious but revealing of his plan of attack to solve the unofficial case. He’s been advised by mum to carry a gun.

A meeting with his former partner,Robbie Kang, at the The Highland “ was a rogues’ gallery of the intellectually vacuous and the socially grasping, all wallowing in a Eurotrash sea of greed and desire. “ It’s here that Kang and Tay agree to work together, clandestinely. They worked so brilliantly together in The Umbrella Man where the shadowy spook character August did a Houdini act against death which is revealed in this book.

Plot unfolds fast. Tay catches the afternoon flight to Thailand and meets up with August who is still alive and well in the sleaze side resort of Pattaya. August has an interest in the case too and tips Tay on another big player.

Pataya, writes Jake Needham “was the kind of a place where, if you were foolish enough to ask anyone who they were or what they did, the only thing you could be certain of was that they would lie to you.” “Soaked with sweat, they rushed from one bar to another, reeking of that peculiarly sour door given off by the overmatched and the underachieving.”

Back in Singapore, Tay “had mixed feelings every time he returned to Singapore from somewhere. His city was a tight, squeaky-clean little shop. No criticism, no dissent, no opposition.”

Tay is getting down and dirty. He’s butting out his cigarettes in public and means business. He needs to find out who the killer is. The possible villain is the front man of The Future, a solicitor from Australia who is a real cool cucumber. Even his name is an object of ridicule for Tay — Zachery Goodnight – Jones. Tay will need to rattle him to get out any precious leads. The bargaining power will be what he decrypts from a hard drive owned by the dead american who was a soft ware programmer working on driverless cars for The Future.

Tay has a deadline.Will Tay reach  51 years? Two dead, and Tay tagged for the next fix it job. He’s also fighting for reinstatement into the police force on his own terms. Past characters from the two former Tay books make appearances. Tay seems to have more respect from his colleagues than he’d perceived. Official Singapore is rebelling in many ways. There’s a human side that Tay has tapped into. If anyone can untangle this mess and come out alive, Tay is tagged for it, for good or worse. Things have got messy on the island state.

Which way the plot will twist, is anyone’s guess.

I know, and you are in for a real surprise… not for the faint hearted. The third in the Inspector Tay series is as good as the first two books. Tay is alive and well and Jake  Needham has served up another  literary treat. Every page is pacy, funny, and witty…and tight.  You’ll never look at Singapore the same way after reading The Dead American, or for that matter, the previous two books.

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