“Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.”
—The Bangkok Post
They steer a tight ship in squeaky-clean Singapore. No dissent, no opposition, no criticism. It’s like an entire country run by Walt Disney. Disneyland with the death penalty, somebody once called it.
A young American software engineer hangs himself in his Singapore apartment. At least that’s what the police say happened. Emma Lazar, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, thinks otherwise. She thinks Tyler Bartlett was murdered to keep him quiet, and the Singapore police are covering it up.
Emma Lazar asks Inspector Samuel Tay to help her investigate the young man’s death. Tay is a senior inspector in the elite Special Investigation Section of Singapore CID. He’s pretty much the best investigator the Singapore police have, but Tay’s father was an American and from him Tay inherited a strong streak of American individualism that has made him an outsider in relentlessly regulated and tightly wound little Singapore. That’s mostly why Tay has been placed on leave. Tay shot a man and everyone knows it was self-defense, but Tay’s enemies have seized on the incident and are trying to get rid of him once and for all.
Tay really doesn’t want to get involved in helping Emma Lazar with her story. It certainly won’t help him get his job back to challenge the government’s official narrative about the death of Tyler Bartlett. But the writer’s determination tickles his curiosity, and…well, the truth is he’s bored and she’s beautiful. So he does it anyway.
Learning that Tyler Bartlett’s death was no suicide is easy enough for Tay. What is far more difficult is finding out what the young man knew that made him worth killing. When Tay realizes both his superiors on the police force and the faceless men of the Internal Security Department are working behind the scenes to keep him from finding out, he becomes more determined than ever to discover what, and who, is behind Tyler Bartlett’s murder.
Of course, there’s a problem there. If Tay does find out, doesn’t that make him worth killing, too?