Another solid police procedural set in Kuala Lumpur…
It had been a while since I’d read one of Rozlan Mohd Noor’s Inspector Mislan books, so I was pleased to receive a review copy of the latest in the series from the publishers. Philanthropists: Inspector Mislan and the Executioners is, like the earlier books, a tightly plotted police procedural set in Malaysia – in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. And it’s well worth the read.
The case itself is intriguing – the bodies of two men are found, without ID or much in the way of personal effects, in a rented house in a suburb of KL. The men appear to be immigrants, so maybe their deaths are related to that? Or are they related to the sizable quantity of drugs found in the house? Are the landlords somehow involved in the matter? As Mislan and his colleagues investigate, in Mislan’s rather bulldog style, the case rapidly gets more complicated, attracting attention at high levels, so that Superintendent Samsiah (known as “Ma’am”) has to get involved. as well. (I think Ma’am might be my favorite character in the series…) But of course eventually they figure out who did it, and why.
Almost as interesting as the case, though, are some of the details of the characters’ personal lives. In the book or two that I missed, apparently a lot has happened: Mislan was shot and nearly died, his son has moved to live with his ex-wife, and of course, Covid… At one point, for example, Mislan wants to tail a suspect, and Ma’am points out to him that by the time he gets through the Covid roadblocks, the suspect will either be gone, or will have made him. At the same time, since Philanthropists is set at the beginning of the pandemic, it also brought back memories of how naïve most of us were back then – not fully understanding the scope and the seriousness of the times to come. And finally, as always, I learned a bit more about Malaysia and its people and politics – and of course, since this is an Inspector Mislan book, its food.
I do think I missed a bit having not read a couple of the previous books in the series. Not too much, since the author does a pretty good job of providing background, but enough that I’d recommend reading them in order. Personally, I’m definitely going to go back and pick up the ones that I missed. Also, please keep I mind that I try to fight star-flation a bit, so for me a four-star review is a solid recommendation to read this book. And again, my thanks to the publishers, Skyhorse Publishing/Arcade Crimewise, for the advance review copy.