Mystery ripped from headlines

Mystery ripped from headlines
Through the eyes of the dead karaoke lounge hostess and the once-rich broker, one pieces together a picture of an evolving Singapore.

SINGAPORE - THE INLET

By Claire Tham

Ethos Books/Paperback/ 368 pages/$23 before GST/ Major bookstores/ Rating:4/5

The Inlet is a fantastic example of how great Singapore fiction can be.

Local publisher Ethos Books has latched onto a winner with lawyer-writer Claire Tham's first solo book in a decade - and only her second novel after the 1999 love triangle, Skimming.

Part mystery, part clear-eyed yet affectionate dissection of Singapore's changing society, The Inlet is a story as gripping as the real-life newspaper headlines the story was culled from.

As Tham told this paper last week, she was inspired by the 2010 drowning of an immigrant worker from China in a private pool at Sentosa Cove, home to Singapore's ultra-rich.

Here is where resemblance to reality begins and ends, for the death of a karaoke lounge hostess named Ling in this book is a mystery piquing the interest of a jaded police officer Cheung Fai, his estranged crime-reporter wife Li Ching and various other men and women the victim affected directly or indirectly.

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