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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
this is a really fun read, love the writing! I wont rehash the plot or the characters as such but Sam Tay is wonderful. The author has given him a dry/wry/sarcastic/curmudgeon type humor. Reminds me of Harland Cobens 'myron bolitar' and Robert Crais 'elvis cole' hope to see more on this character. Well worth every pennyQ!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Just finished the book and enjoyed it. Lead characters well developed. Story holds your
interest all the way to its surprise conclusion. A page-turner for the most part.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
...are played wonderfully in this book, my first introduction to Inspector Samuel Tay. The story kept me turning pages and staying up later than I'd intended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I honestly can't think of anything to say that wasn't said better by the other negative reviewers of this book. I finished it, so that's something ( I guess), but other than that, I thought it was one of the most "laid back" detective stories I've read. So, I agree with the comments said about the actions (or actually non actions) of Inspector Tay's investigation. Frankly I thought Tay was way too passive an investigator for my taste. But then I think we American readers of murder mystery stories like our lead character to be very involved and "hands on" with the investigation. You know, kind of like Bogart, or Harry Bosch in the Michael Connelly series (come to think of it, Bosch did go to Hong Kong in one of the Connelly books).
I gave this book 3 stars primarily because of the ending. It had a nice twist.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The Ambassador's Wife is another great mystery thriller from this exceptionally talented writer. If you've never been to Singapore, Jake takes you there. If you have been to Singapore, Jake takes you back. Each character was interesting and perfectly developed, adding layers of intrigue throughout. You feel as though you are part of the story, accompanying Inspector Tay on his quest to solve the murder, wondering if he will. There isn't a dull page in this book, thoroughly captivating throughout.

Jake Needham is one of the best, if not the best, authors of the Bangkok/Asia crime genre. His writing is intelligent, challenging, exciting, fun and well researched. I highly recommend his other novels as well for hours of reading enjoyment, they are all on par with the comments in this review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I picked this up because it takes place in Singapore where I lived for many years. While the plot was excellent, I was offended by the author's constant belittling of Singaporeans, and even more so of the Thai people. I don't know he chose this setting if he dislikes it so much. If not for this bias, I would have give the book 4 stars.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book. I loved that it was set in Singapore. The author does a good job of taking you there. I was ambivalent about the main character, Samuel Tay. He was just too much of a curmudgeon which got annoying at times. The author does a lot of America-bashing which also got old. But the overall action and the murder/hunt for the killer was good enough for me to overlook the parts I didn't like. The character I liked the most, didn't make it. I was disappointed. I was hoping for a spin off series.
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20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 9, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
That this book is subtitled as being 'an' Inspector Tay novel implies that it is not only one of a series of such books, but that this series has a following. I am about to attract the enmity of that following by this mostly negative review.

While I found the writing and pacing of the novel to be wholly professional, the contents were, to my eye, so unattractive as to make it almost unreadable. I have to include a few minor spoilers to continue so, please review reader, be forewarned of that.

The in the first third of the book, the identity of a killed woman is the central mystery. This is sensible for the fictional participants who are mostly part of a Singapore crime investigative organization, but given the title of the book, the woman's identity is hardly a mystery to the reader. For me, I wanted to shout at this book, "Let's get going. The dead woman is clearly the ambassador's wife". To say that as a police procedural, the pacing was glacial is to put it mildly but that's ok if the slow moving pace includes interesting places and people.

It does not. The protagonist is a lazy, rather dimwitted, brooding and ineffective officious egoist. For example, although a homicide detective for 15 years, he is too squeamish to examine the dead woman's body in detail and refuses, even upon request by the medical examiner, to inspect certain aspects of the crime as reflected on the victim's body in the postmortem. Inspector - this is your job - to be justice for the victims. Your job does not include pampering your personal neurotic tendencies and sensitivities.

Further, the inspector is lazy to an amazing degree. The woman is found killed in a hotel. The inspector orders all the other rooms on the floor emptied for no reason ever given as in aid to the investigation but then does not show the energy to interview those people who were in those rooms. So he uses his police power to disrupt but not to further the investigation.

The inspector shows contempt for almost all he encounters. He bullies the hotel management because they are Americans (he figures) and are open and fully cooperative rather than being - what? Dour Brits or sour somethings? He feels the same way about an FBI agent who commits the hideous crime of assuming he and the inspector are allies in the fight on crime and so approaches the inspector informally. The inspector also despises another woman, again an American, for having a crush on him. He is too lazy to either write, wire, send a message or call his mom who lives in New York City and has recently had a stroke. She is predictably married to an American. Instead he chooses to chain smoke and brood on this during the critical time right after she fell ill.

All right, so the protagonist of the novel struck me wrong, but if I only got an interesting insider's look at life in and the city of Singapore, this would be a good read. Rather than that, we see the city through the bitter depressing eyes of the protagonist who only sees a city which is losing its spirit to modernism. We learn that Singapore is always brutally hot - even to Tay who is a lifelong resident. My thought was that if the residents of a place find it miserable, I sure don't wish to see it myself. So I've erased Singapore from my wish to see list. A boring city with an unbearable climate is hardly a place I wish to visit.

I can go on, but in the end, there is nothing at all I can recommend about this book except that it's well written. I only wish that the writing concerned something interesting or worthwhile to read.
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VINE VOICEon April 17, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I liked this book, despite a few character flaws. The author has written for TV for many years and he shows a deft hand in plotting and settings. Of course, the setting is Singapore, a very interesting nation with one party rule and a very strong nanny state.

The book starts off with the death and mutilation of a woman in the Singapore Marriott. It takes the characters 70 pages to learn what the title has already told us. She is the wife of a prominent ambassador, and things are not what they seem. Samuel Tay, an inspector with a special branch of the police in Singapore is charged with finding the guilty parties. However, has has to deal with roadblocks and obstacles from the American Embassy which wants to classify this immediately as terror and have the FBI run the whole investigation.

The pacing is swift, the plot turns are credible if not obvious, and the ending is satisfying. Along the way we meet characters who will play roles in future instances of the series.

My only complaint is that the protagonist who is 50, overweight, and smokes a lot has younger women coming on to him fairly often. I thought poorly of that plot device in the Girl with the Green Tattoo series and it is no better here.

But Singapore is interesting as a place to put a detective series for many reasons, and the author who lives part time in Asia clearly knows it well. I sympathize with his complaints about the historic Singapore being torn down for buildings of dubious architectural quality.

And I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
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