Just finished reading A Girl in the Window by Jake Needham.

 Tay and his deceased mother are having a late night discussion. She’s appeared as a full apparition and doing break dance moves on the end of his bed. No disco ball lights this time.

 Mum addressing Tay:

 “Oh, that’s a fine phrase. Very high-sounding. Maybe a little pretentious, but quite grand really. I just hope you don’t start thinking you’re going to find redress for me.”

 There’s something about this quote that’s moving, It’s Tay being put down by his mum, and I just loved it. It wiped the smug smile of his face too.Tay copped it sweet. For all we know, he could well have been having a conversation with himself. Be careful when you say ‘redress’ around mum, she just might give you a good ‘dressing-down.’

And what is Tay’s response to his mother’s crystal ball  advice from the other side of the grave?

“Oh, for God’s sake, Mother. You sound like a fucking fortune cookie.”

Whether Tay is talking to himself or to his mother, it’s still a bit ambiguous. Just the way Jake likes it. But it does have it’s advantages, muses Inspector Tay through a quote from the actor who played the sane whacko in One Who Flew Over the Cukoos Nest:

‘I know the voices in my head aren’t real, but they have such damn good ideas I listen to them anyway.’

But for us smokers out there — we are a dying breed (cough cough) — I’m going to throw in two more wonderful quotes from the book that I’m sure you’ll appreciate for their wit and sympathy for us wretched-dirty-filthy-outcast -swines- of- bastards-and-mother-of-whores smokers. Few writers understand personal liberty like Jake does:

 ‘The more difficult the smug, self-righteous nannies made it for Tay to smoke, the more determined he was to continue doing it.’


 ‘Smoking wasn’t much more than a habit for most people, but for Tay it was an undertaking filled with ritualistic meaning. Each cigarette he smoked offered a few moments of escape from the indifference of a pitiless world.’

As a jaded traveler wary of everything, I found my manifesto at last. Jake has done it again:

‘The problem there was Tay had never been a keen traveler. He thought all that business about how you broaden your mind when you visited other countries was nonsense. When you went to other countries mostly what you discovered was how good you had it at home.’

 Think I’m going to light up now, so please buy and read his book,

It’s a real ‘doozy’.

 This is not so much a review but tribute to a great read. Singapore, you owe Needham big time.


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