Mystery of body in a pool

Mystery of body in a pool
Lawyer-author Claire Tham.

SINGAPORE - A lifetime of enjoying crime novels and noir has led to award-winning Singapore writer Claire Tham penning her thriller.

The Inlet is her first solo book in 10 years; in between, her older works have been anthologised in short story collections.

The new novel begins with the nude body of a karaoke lounge hostess found floating in a rich man's swimming pool.

"I consulted a pathologist at the Health Sciences Authority and asked whether it was credible for her to die the way I put it," says Tham, 46, over coffee.

Famously reticent about her life, she opens up about the nearly 400-page novel, launched last Friday by local imprint Ethos Books.

The story is inspired by a similar real- life incident that made headlines in 2010, when a 24-year-old Chinese national drowned in a swimming pool at a private residence in Sentosa Cove.

Tham was especially touched by Straits Times photojournalist Neo Xiaobin's image-driven reports of how the dead woman's impoverished parents nearly beggared themselves flying to Singapore from China to claim the cremated remains.

"It was very moving, I found it very affecting, this girl who came to a strange country and died," she says. "I couldn't write from her parents' point of view, I know nothing about China, so I wrote about the lives she touched."

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