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Jake Needham is a Twitter discovery for me. I was caught up for a while in John Burdett’s Thai mysteries starting with Bangkok 8, so the notion of another writer using an Asian setting for thrillers appealed to me. Thus, The Ambassador’s Wife and my introduction to detective Sam Tay.

I’ve been to Bangkok, but never to Singapore, so it was interesting to get an intro to that unique city/state via this mystery, which, of course, opens with the discovery of the body of the wife of America’s Ambassador to Singapore. The details of her murder are part and parcel of the plot, so it’s important not to describe them too closely here. I’ll just say that her identity is in doubt for some time.

Assigned to the case is our insecure, Colombo-like detective Sam Tay. He’s trying to quit smoking, confused about his love life, or lack thereof, finds it difficult to form let alone sustain relationships. With all of these these anti-swashbuckling characteristics, his adversaries find it easy to discount him. Their mistake, naturally.

Eventually we do get to Bangkok, that cesspool of mystery and vice, where it seems the essential clue to the murder must lie. There are lots of times when we think we have such essential clues (and so does Sam), but it turns out, we don’t. We’re nearly to Needham’s last page before we know the truth, and know where it’s going to take the perp.

So, welcome to Singapore, Sam Tay, and Jake Needham. A most satisfying commercial literary trio, whom I heartily recommend.


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