21 Immortals introduces an exciting new voice in international noir—for readers of Jo Nesbø, Keigo Higashino, and John Burdett.
Inspector Mislan Latif's final case after a long night's shift could be his last. Called to a wealthy neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur, he finds a crime scene unlike any he has encountered before: pristine, the victims a family seated at dinner, Mona Lisa smiles fixed to their faces, frozen mid-gesture around the traditional Chinese New Year dish of yee sang, signifying prosperity, longevity, many good things—though it's not that time of year. It makes an eerie, chilling tableau of death, but signifying what? The celebrity of the father, fashion magnate Robert Tham, has already drawn a media throng, and soon the upper echelons of the police have taken an interest, bringing pressure to solve the crime quickly.
But every clue points to another unknown. This isn't the primary scene: where is it? What are the motives of Tham's younger business partner, the attractive Miss Irene? What of his connections to an old-school criminal gang and the triads? With rival units of the police seeking to co-opt and, he suspects, bury the case, Inspector Mislan's investigation takes him to every level of this modern, multi-ethnic, American-pop-culture-influenced society, to where moneyed power and influence demand their say. Maverick, hard-boiled yet tender, a single father raising a young child, Mislan must rely on his team—and the politically savvy woman leading Major Crimes who is his boss—to support, protect him from the corruption above, and help find a way to ensure the course of justice.
Rozlan Mohd Noor served as a police officer in the Royal Malaysia Police for 11 years as a crime investigator and court prosecutor before joining the private sector. He has published several crime/thriller novels. Six of them feature Inspector Mislan as the main protagonist, with Posthumous Child (2022) being the latest. The Inspector Mislan novels are now published internationally by Arcade CrimeWise, New York, starting with 21 Immortals in 2020 and DUKE in 2021. In 2022, the Inspector Mislan books were optioned as a mini-series by UK-based production company Envision Entertainment.
3.5 stars rounded down. This is a good police procedural, set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The author is an ex Royal Malaysian Police investigator and court prosecutor. The central figure is Inspector Mislan Latif who is a single parent, because his wife left him and their son, Daniel, now 6 years old. Latif is called to the scene of a high profile murder. Robert Tham, head of a profitable company called RT, and his wife and son, were murdered. Inspector Mislan is in the Major Crimes division of the Royal Malaysian Police. He and his team along with the medical examiner slowly unravel how the murder was committed, who did it and why. However, he has difficulty in pursuing the case, because of corrupt and incompetent superiors. His immediate boss protects him from their interference long enough for him to build a case. He neglects his son as he works nonstop on these murders. Latif is a determined and dedicated police officer. Pros: The book was well written with believable characters and a fast moving plot line. I read it in 3 days. Cons: Latif is a chain smoker, constantly smoking in no smoking areas. While this may not be a big thing to some, 2 members of my immediate family have a genetic lung disease. They rely on people abiding by smoking rules. Smoking quote: "He finishes the nasi lemak, gulps down the coffee, and lights a cigarette, ignoring the government policy of no smoking in the office. He is a police officer, and needs to smoke to melt his brain cells so he can think." Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this eARC through Edelweiss
If you are in the market for crime fiction set in an exotic locale, 21 Immortals is the ticket. It's the first of five books in Noor's Inspector Mislan series set in the tropical locale of Kualu Lumpur, Malaysia. Despite its foreign locale, 21 Immortals reads much like a police procedural set anywhere in the world. Mislan is about to log out for the night, when a call comes in about what turns out to be the world's most unusual crime scene: an entire family embalmed and posed at a fancy celebration dinner. There are no immediate clues, but dogged investigation eventually opens up some theories. Don't read this expecting gun battles and car chases. Expect a more plodding investigation. What is remarkable though is how universal the story of Inspector Mislan is.
21 Immortals is the first instalment in the Inspector Mislan series and Malaysia’s answer to Sherlock Holmes and I must admit that the exotic location, as well as the perfectly executed plot, kept me reading long into the early hours. Kuala Lumpur Inspector Mislan Latif is about to clock off for the night after a long and arduous shift when he's called out to the strangest crime scene he's ever encountered. It looks to be a triple murder where each of the corpses, the mother, father and their ten-year-old sons, have been embalmed and posed around their table with a Chinese New Year's banquet in front of them. The clues are scant with Mislan soon coming to the realisation that this is going to be a tough case to solve. Even the cause of death isn't immediately clear. The results of their autopsies indicate that they were poisoned by hydrogen cyanide gas before their bizarre embalming. Later the male victim is identified as affluent businessman Robert Tham, whose brutal slaying may be related to his past as leader of a shady secret society. Once the police force realises the deaths are of a high-profile family the pressure to bring the perpetrator to justice escalates but Mislan refuses to bow to the pressure just to get a result.
It's a rare delight to find Eastern crime fiction that has been translated as well as this; it almost reads as though it was written in English. And the fact that the author was himself a detective for over a decade in KL adds an air of authenticity and realism to proceedings. Mislan is married to his job, as police employees often are, to the detriment of his personal life as he doesn't get to spend enough time with his son and his marriage has broken down with his wife having run off and committed adultery with another man. It'll certainly be interesting to see how his family life evolves as he's now back in the dating game as free and single. I particularly admired that he called out the corruption within the police force and is a man with honour who relentlessly pursues the truth rather than accepting the falsehoods often presented by others. This is a real page-turner and a superb police procedural but add in the tidbits about Malaysian culture, especially food, traditions and customs, and you have an unmissable crime caper. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Arcade Crimewise for an ARC.
The hype was a bit late I've been waiting eagerly for the case to at least lead to something. Half way through it with Hubble on it and Di (oh I love this girl), Inspector Mislan at last on the move. The murder case was plotted well-- I love that the narrative did not panicking that much, quite smooth though a bit slow at the beginning but the blurry unknown mysterious murder case was quite tense and complicated, I was super curious.
A bit of meloromance, some family stuff, ol' memories strike again but I like that it showed me a bit of Mislan's background. The love part with Safia, I did not fancy that stuff much but I appreciate how Safia was super helpful with the case and managing Mislan's heart /cough/, was a bit concern on how Mislan gonna solve the murder case with some upper management and colleagues not on his side. The credibility of Supt. Samsiah was admirable I think Johan was also my favorite character here, freaking trustworthy. And Chew too!
I like the semi-formal vibe of the story telling. The investigation part was fairly intense and utterly praiseworthy, some unexpected drama and I wasn't satisfied with the motive-- I'm with Mislan on that, it was unconvincing and not right. Nevertheless, though a bit dejected with the final part-- dislike those police politic stuff (chunk of displeasure /annoyed/), I think the ending was not bad. 3.5 stars to be exact.
So… I don’t really like the ending but it’s acceptable. I mean, come on, we already have lots of cold cases here in Malaysia, do we have to have this in fiction too? Please give us some hope. The world is already depressed as it is.
Anyway, this book was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages although I found nothing likable about the main protagonist. Especially he is a chain smoker.
Ooh... and I found some typos. That, affect my rating too.
4.5 stars Another brilliant surprise of a random pick that blew me away. A real page turner. I have a lot to say so I'll start at the beginning.
I also periodically post reviews & check out the website Bookbub.com. On that website, when you mark an author that you like/follow, about once a month they send an email w/a list of books that some of those writers you've checked recommend. I received one of those emails in which Michael Connelly recommended the book. I wasn't sure if I'd like it so I got it thru my library. Wow...he was so right!!
The blurb on the cover said, "Inspector Mislan Latif is my kind of detective. Harry Bosch would ride shotgun with him anytime."--Michael Connelly. And I couldn't agree with that quote more. I'd recommend this to those who like his books. Inspector Mislan is the Malaysian Harry Bosch. Also similar to the Inspector Lu Fei series by Brian Klingborg.
I don't know much about Malaysia except that I believe it has a multi-cultural/ethnic/religious population. This was reflected in the story.
It's a police procedural which I enjoyed b/c I was trying to solve the crime along w/the detective. It was a good mystery w/engaging characters and clues.
Mislan is a likable character. I love the relationship with his son. I also hope that he's able to develop his romantic relationship with Dr. Safia. Unlike American cop stories, Johan wasn't referred to as his partner but as his "assistant" which I found interesting. Also, it felt very believable & realistic which I attribute to the fact that the writer is himself a retired CID cop. And like many other mystery books, the locale (Kuala Lampur) plays a part of the story. (ie. mentioning local shops, restaurants, streets, etc.)
Great quotes that sums up Inspector Mislan & his attitude/philosophy: Johan saying: "Remember what you said to me when I was assigned to you? You said there were two types of investigators, one works hard to close a case and the other works hard to get closures. You asked me which I was. I didn't know then, but after working with you, I know."
Dr. Safia saying: "I just don't want to see this case consume you, your life. It'll destroy you if you let it. You cannot solve every case. Some of them are just not meant to be solved. "
Mislan saying: "Three quarters of a policeman's salary is for taking all the crap, and the rest is for doing his job," he always says.
Cool & interesting police procedural in a different than normal setting (for me). I think it's well-done & not only shows the investigative side of things, but also all the office politics that come into play. Recommended for fans of police procedurals, especially if you want international flair & intrigue. I would definitely read more from this series.
"21 Immortals: Inspector Mislan and the Yee Sang Murders", by Rozlan Mohd Noor is a Malaysian detective fiction novel, the first in the Inspector Mislan series. The entire series was originally published between 2010 and 2017, by Silverfish books, an indie press aiming to promote Malaysian literature in English, and is now being reissued by Arcade Crimewise, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.
The book follows Inspector Mislan, a Major Crimes detective in Kuala Lumpur as he is investigating the murder of a prominent figure in fashion design, his wife and child. Father of a young child himself, Mislan is set to solve the murder, in spite of the perfect nature of the crime as well as the pressure from the press craving superiors in the Police Department.
I am a big fan of detective fiction and a big fan of traveling to different countries and observing life in different places, so this book was perfect for me. The thriller/ mystery aspect of the book is not over sensationalized, and there are no big cliffhangers, shoot-outs, or hold-your-breath chases. After all, as Inspector Mislan himself points it out on a few occasions, this is not an episode of CSI. Rather, it is a slow burn police investigation, where the detective sometimes needs to pull at straws, sometimes needs to call in favors, and sometimes needs to fight the corrupt system. When I picked this up I saw it compared to Keigo Higashino's detective fiction, but as I was reading it it reminded me more of Hideo Yokoyama's more procedural crime fiction. I picked it up for the murder case, but I stayed for the case investigation and the integrity of the characters that want to see the case through.
If you are a fan of detective fiction definitely give this one a go. It's quick, engaging, and rooted in reality. I am eager to continue with the series and I really hope Yelp can suggest some good Malaysian restaurants near me, because all the food mentions and descriptions had me drooling. Thank you NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing (Arcade Crimewise) for the free copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find myself some nasi lemak and a glass of teh tarik.
This is one of those books where it is hard to sum everything up into a single star-rating.
As a debut novel, it definitely shows promise. 21 Immortals has a unique voice, interesting characters, and a well drawn and uncommon setting. As a police procedural, outside of the beginning, I liked the pace of parsing out information, and the feeling of everything coming together near the end.
But Noor also makes some choices it was hard for me to get over.
The book is written in present tense, and for no good reason that I could figure out. It doesn't increase the immediacy of the plot or descriptions for me. Choosing the title that he did for the book, focussing on the 21 Immortals instead of Inspector Mislan gives you some information I don't feel the reader should have right off the bat. And finally, even though I liked the solution of the crime and resolution of the book, the identity of the actual killer wasn't fully satisfying to me. I think this is because the police did not have very much information on the personal relationships of the victim until very late in this book.
If I come across more novels in this series I might try them out, but I really hope Noor drops the present tense narration.
The first in a police procedural series featuring maverick (!) Inspector Mislan Latif, set in Kuala Lumpur. Although he should have clocked-off after his night shift, he is called to a bizarre murder scene where a family have been embalmed and arranged around a dining table. As the case progresses over the next week, Mislan is caught up in organized crime and a battle between different sections within the KL police precinct.
The setting is interesting, somewhere different for fans of hard-boiled crime fiction to explore in their imaginations. The usual themes are all there: Mislan is a single-parent, his wife having walked away from the family; he has an on-off relationship with a colleague; he takes everything on his shoulders, and becomes obsessed with solving the case; there are shady characters aplenty, and some of them are closer to home than Mislan would like....
It's not original, but Mislan is an interesting enough character to carry the plot and, as I say, the atmospheric background of KL is enough to make it different. There are plenty more in the series to be translated, so I hope that this reaches a wide enough audience in a crowded field.
More of a police procedural than I usually read. It was good, but at times I got lost with all the acronyms, LOL. The PC and the SS and then unfamiliar words for types of food meant I didn't grasp things properly, but that's on me. Interesting plot but I still had some questions. . . Inspector Mislan is an interesting character and I was intrigued by some of the others. As has been noted, there is a LOT of smoking going on. When I first read that in a review I thought they were nitpicking but I had to say there is a LOT of smoking. The author draws attention to it, in fact, by repeatedly having the characters smoke in no smoking areas.
Those who like police procedurals will enjoy it, I think, and the look at how it's done in another country.
Michael Connelly recommended this book on Bookbub. Since there is a copy in my library, I borrowed and read it. The Malaysian setting is quite accurate, having been there before, with its food, the locales, the politics and cronyism, etc..
The mystery was interesting. But...there is one HUGE thing missing in this murder mystery. WHY? Where is the motive? All irrelevant characters pop up, and disappear, in this book. Maybe they will pop up again in the next books.
People read murder mysteries for the conclusion, the fireworks. This mystery never satisfactorily concluded, instead it fizzled out. There is no "justice boner" that the victims can RIP, and the criminal got what he/she deserved. Disappointing.
Very good police procedural in an interesting culture. The main character is likeable, serious about his job and good at his job. I enjoyed the methodical way in which he and his partner ( and boss) solved the murder. Already looking forward to the next in the series.
This is a slow burner that started with the murder of a prominent family from a wealthy neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur and escalates to reveal the corruption at the highest levels of the criminal justice system. At the centre of this is a seasoned police inspector and his loyal partner from the Major Crimes Unit, as well as their politically savvy woman boss backing them against every obstacle along the way.
Tight storytelling, well-written plot and interesting characters, 21 Immortals is such a treat for a weekend read.
I quite liked the lightness of the story, and despite it's a crime investigation story, there is some sense of humour in it. To be honest, I was surprised by the author's frankness about Malay's weakness in English. Although it is a fictional story, pointing out any flaws in them is a taboo in Malaysia. It didn't go well when it was pointed out by their former Prime Minister himself. I just worry that some readers will get offended with it. However, I admire his courage to express his personal opinion of his own race in the book.
Another surprising thing for me is the number of sexual fantasy and objectification expressed in this book. For me, it was unusual to read it from a Malaysian author. Although I'm not a feminist, activist or whatsoever, I have another concern that some readers will be offended with it, especially in this kind of world that we are living in. Another minor thing to highlight is I had lost count with the number of cigarettes *cough cough* which I've "smoked" throughout this book. And I can feel the acidity in my stomach after drinking uncountable cups of coffee.
In terms of the story, I really liked the detailed investigation procedures, and it provides the answers to most of the questions which probably appear on the reader's mind. Unfortunately, I really don't like the story of the main character's personal life. It's too much for me, and it's taking more than sixty-per cent of the story which involves him flirting with the pathologist. The remaining is about the case investigation. I wish the author will offer more of his knowledge in the case due to his previous experience as a police officer. What a waste if a crime novel turns out more to a romance novel.
Thanks to NetGalley and Silver Shamrock Publishing for providing me with a free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
This is the first Inspector Mislan book by Rozlan Mohd Noor. The third book has just been published. I enjoyed this book but it's not that easy a read, for a crime novel. The book grips you from the beginning with an eerie murder scene - a family of three sitting upright at a properly set up dinner table; each one dead. They have been embalmed. The author then takes the reader deep into the crime investigation including the murky world of Chinese triads in Kuala Lumpur's chinatown. The book is rich in imageries and I find myself drawn into Inspector Mislan's world of police work, the underground world, his personal and all too human problems. In the end, the cause of the murder was also human and seems unreal to me. But maybe I underestimate human passion. This is an intelligent book and satisfying although the ending may disappoint some. And it is not my typical crime novel which I expect to pick up and finish in a few hours and sigh at the neat conclusion. There is no neat conclusion here.
Michael Connelly wrote a blurb about this book, so out of curiosity, I picked it up. The detective protagonist is a decent fellow, as are the police-affiliated personnel. There are many police tropes—although this book is set in Kuala Lumpur. Inspector Mislan Latif is a divorced, single parent who works too much and doesn’t see his six-yr-old son enough. Mislan is in a relationship with a police-affiliated colleague, who is a pathologist. The upper police brass are corrupt, reminding me of a few British police series.
Although this is a contemporary police procedural, multiple episodes of heavy, cigarette smoking put me in mind of the hard boiled detectives of the 1950s—an off-kilter juxtaposition, at times. The author writes in present tense which felt off in this leisurely paced police procedural with its dated tropes. Unfortunately, there’s more personal drama and romance than there is police procedural material. At the denouement, I would’ve preferred a cleaner ending to this police procedural—in keeping with its hard boiled aspirations.
The clichés abound in this contemporary police procedural set in Kuala Lumpur, but the premise, the setting and the suspense overcome the stereotypes. Honest Inspector Mislan is lead investigator on the case of three family members found embalmed and posed, with no obvious suspect and police infighting and corruption major distractions. At the end of the novel the motive isn’t clear, the victim’s credit card transactions needed much earlier attention and a plot line with a female journalist just disappears, but the tense unveiling of the guilty compensates. 3.5 stars
So glad it's over. The whole book is one huge cliche written in the most simplistic way, cheesy situations that do not give much sense. I found the detective the dullest investigator I have ever encountered in crime fiction. Well, I tried it, I suffered and I earned.
I came to this book via the manifesto of one of Malaysia's local publishers, which mentions the types of books they publish and includes this series as an example. Then I saw it in the library's ebook collection and marked it to read. After years, I finally decided to pick it's up. This book has its ups and downs and I'm trying to sort them out in my head as I write this review.
The book starts with a creepy scene, a family murdered, embalmed, and posed in a manner you see during Chinese New Year celebrations in Malaysia and Singapore, when families gather to toss Yee Sang while wishing for good luck, prosperity, and anything else they want for the coming year. This is the hook for the reader, and it's a good one. Can you imagine walking into that crime scene?
Then there's Inspector Mislan, a chain smoking police officer juggling a demanding job and being a single father to a 6-year old. The case gains immediate media attention because one of the victims is a renowned owner of a fashion house. With forensics, plain clothes officers, meetings with the brass, computer technicians, surveillance, and suspect interviews, it's a fairly typical police procedural.
The first 200 pages felt slow to me. They weren't making any progress in the investigation and the pressure on Mislan to hand over the case to another officer increases as they hit multiple roadblocks. But it's such a comfort to read a book set in Malaysia, where people speak like me, in a mixture of English, Malay, various Chinese dialects, and Tamil; they have recognizable names, places, and behaviour; and eat the same food. So I continued reading.
The next 250 pages is where the action is, when Mislan makes a crucial connection in the case and then the book becomes propulsive. But I kept asking myself what the author is exploring with this story. This question becomes even more important after I turned the last page.
*Minor spoilers ahead*
Crime novels and police procedurals revolve around 5W1H: What, who, where, when, why, and how. Why, or the motive, is often said to be the most important part of any crime. But what does it mean when the author doesn't give a motive for the crime? Was this an oversight , just bad writing as some reviewers have suggested, or is there something more to it? Or am I reading too much into it and these reviewers are right?
I think the story isn't about the crime itself but an exploration of police corruption, high-handedness, and brutality; the power wealthy business people have over the police and the judicial system; and the political system's failings and influence on crime-fighing. It shows what happens when people with no crime fighting skills get promoted due to connections and not experience or competence. Usually someone innocent ends up paying for it with their life. In many ways it's a book very specific to Malaysia, yet these problems are present in many countries, if not all. That said, it does bother me to not know why the family was murdered, and, more curiously, why were they so elaborately posed/staged. Did I miss something? If you've read the book and picked up some clues, do let me know!
I liked that it doesn't bother explaining our food and places. Why bother if your primary intended audience is Malaysian? The author is a local and the publisher is a local indie.No Malaysian would ever explain nasi lemak, nasi padang, and maggi goreng to another. That would be beyond ridiculous. I count this as the author's strength. On the other hand, the language is a little stilted but if you're not particularly bothered about POVs or care more about the plot, this should be okay.
I also love the Head of Major Crimes, Superintendent Samsiah. She has a sense of humour, and is calm and collected under pressure. She trusts Mislan to do the right thing but steps in to fight for him when the situation calls for it. She knows there are many ways to get justice and plans for it without breaking the law. It felt good to read about a strong, intelligent woman in a leadership role in the predominantly male police hierarchy.
What didn't sit right with me was Mislan's casual sexism towards the police PR personnel and fatphobia towards Hubble. That wasn't necessary, but Mislan isn't perfect and this book came out in 2011. I'm hoping later books in the series address these issues. Additional content warning for physical (between Mislan and another officer) and gun violence during a police raid, resulting in several deaths.
Read alike: I don't read many procedurals, but this book reminded me of Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama.
I'm always on the lookout for crime fiction from other countries, so I was excited to see this first book in a new series by a Malaysian author. Originally published by a small press in Malaysia a decade ago, it's the first of three police procedurals set in contemporary Kuala Lumpur. The hero is Mislam Latif, a workaholic divorced police inspector with a keen eye for the best food spots in the city. He's cut from the same honest cloth as the heroes of many Western police procedurals, with the notable exception that his young son lives with him (this isn't as much as an impediment to his work as one might think, as there's a live-in maid who does most of the caregiving).
This case involves the strange murder of a fashion tycoon and his family, who have been staged in a tableau around a traditional Chinese New Year meal of yee sang. What follows is a pretty straightforward cop procedural, as Mislan and his assistant follow various investigative threads, get the help of various technical expects (including a stereotype of a computer hacker and a sexy coroner who naturally becomes Mislan's romantic interest), call in favors, and attempt to fend off all manner of internal politics and corruption.
The author worked as a police inspector in Kuala Lumpur for a decade, so the rhythms and tone of the policework comes across well. However, the complications arising from various competing ranks of police bureaucracy with their own interests (and acronyms) gets a little hard to follow. It felt like every forty pages or so, there was another meeting in a police office with 6-7 people all leveling various threats about taking the case away or firing Mislan or firing his boss. That all could have been handled with more clarity and nuance.
On the whole, the writing is fairly workmanlike -- clipped phrases, short sentences, simple language. Some aspects would benefit from a further round of light editing -- for example, Mislan's boss is in the story from the very beginning, but all of a sudden, halfway through the book, a paragraph suddenly appears that provides the basic details of her physical appearance and career with the police. That sort of info-dump should come at the outset, not after she's already appeared in five scenes. Another minor example is that the term "Secret Societies" is abbreviated as "SS" throughout, which kept pulling me (as a Western reader) out every time characters talk about the SS this and the SS that.
That said -- there's a fair amount to like in terms of the cultural context for the book. There are tons of food scenes, and I kept racing to the internet to look up what people were eating and then drooling over photos. The incessant smoking and drinking of iced coffee felt very of the place. Another aspect that was interesting was the extent to which characters of differing ethnic backgrounds (Chinese vs. Malay, etc.) weren't particularly cross-culturally fluent. All in all, definitely worth checking out if you like crime novels from other countries or just have a particular interest in Malaysia. There are two more books in the series, but I'm not clear if those will also be released in the West or not.
I’m a fan of police procedurals, and also of mysteries set in interesting locations, and so I was glad to receive an ARC of 21 Immortals by Rozlan Mohd Noor in exchange for my honest review.
And I enjoyed reading this book very much. I really do appreciate a good police procedural, and have fun imagining whether I could follow the clues and make the same deductions that the investigators do. And it’s also fun to enjoy, along with the investigators, those moments when things seem to fall into place, even if I didn’t figure it all out myself. This book let me do both. Without being spoiler-ish, I especially liked the way that Inspector Mislan figured out where/how the initial murders took place.
I also liked the descriptions of Kuala Lumpur (KL), which gave me a sense of the city that I didn’t have before, having visited it only once in the past, for a brief few hours, on a business trip. Given the unusual (to me) locale, I was a bit taken aback by how similar the investigation process, and also the politics of the investigation, were to what I could imagine taking place in my home country, the US. So, I actually googled the author to see whether he should, in fact, know what he’s talking about, and I found that he is an ex-police officer in the Malaysian police force, who worked as an Investigation Officer for 11 years in KL. So I guess he probably is really writing what he knows!
All-in-all, I enjoyed the book a lot, and having noticed that there are a few more titles in this series available in paper book format, I hope more are made available as e-books soon.
Please note that I tend to be pretty conservative in awarding stars, only giving five stars to maybe one in thirty or forty books, the ones I think I’ll read and re-read and re-read again. So four stars is a great rating from me and means I really recommend a book. And my thanks again to the publisher for the ARC!
The story involves Insp Mislan, a Malaysian CID officer investigating triple murder of a family in Kuala Lumpur. What makes the story unusual is the setting (Kuala Lumpur) and the fact that the author himself was a former CID officer himself.
As a result, the plot is realistic in terms of the police procedures, politics, locations, cultural aspects, characterization, etc (Note: I am a Malaysian myself who is familiar with the local law enforcement).
The story itself is fast moving and the plot complex enough to sustain the reader's interest. Rozlan is a decent writer and his years of experience as a CID officer clearly shows. His description of the criminal situation involving the triads (known as Secret Societies in Malaysia) are very interesting.
I think there are things that can be improved with the story. One is that the actual story was meant to be taken place a decade or two ago (it was written 2010). That would help to explain certain things that the readers (especially Malaysians) might have picked up. A lot has changed in KL and in the Malaysian police in the last 10 years or so.
Second thing is that it would have been better if the publisher's provided some additional explanations to non-Malaysian readers about certain terms and practices mentioned in the story. For example, non Malaysian readers probably wouldn't understand what Bukit Aman stands for or some of the unique laws that applies to Secret Societies and criminals that only found in Malaysia. The writer wrote the novel for the local audience originally so it didn't contain these explanations.
Third thing is that the author's experience in the CID was probably in the 90s or early 2000's. Some of the things that he does are no longer possible, for example smoking. There is no way that any one is allowed to smoke indoors these days.
I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
I requested this title because I wanted to read a mystery set somewhere that I am not that familiar with and by an author new to me. 21 Immortals starts off grabbing the reader immediately with a bizarre crime, an entire family found dead and posed around a New Year’s feast in their home. Inspector Mislan only is on the case because the call came in at the very end of his shift and now he finds himself stuck with it. The case twists and turns through leads that involve hacking, triads, infidelity, and police corruption. There is also a significant side plot involving Inspector Mislan’s personal life as his wife has left him a single Dad to a five year old and he is now dating.
I found the case really interesting and enjoyed reading along as Mislan uncovered all the elements of the crime. I will admit to feeling a little lost about some of the references to Triads and crime in Malaysia and events in 1995. I feel I need a little more background knowledge to fully appreciate some of this novel. Still a very enjoyable police procedural and a change of pace from my normal reads.
Growing up in South East Asia, when I read the name of places mentioned in this book, the food, the manner the food is served, and the attraction of going to a city just for a certain food, all those brought back fun memories.
So this book is already special in that regard for me. But, on top of it, the characters, plot, pacing, and ending are truly a delight to read through. As far as murder mysteries go, this one has a disturbing aspect on it that would probably be quite difficult to detect for those who are not familiar with eastern cultures.
Layered on top of those, is the delicate balance between cultural harmony (and tension) in a multi-cultural capital city, which, I think is handled quite gracefully by the author.
I also like the light jabs on American crime-investigation TV series, and there is a side romance that is interwoven with the crime investigation.
A lot of the reviews ding the main character because he smokes continuously. The fact is, it is a realistic portrayal of what a lot of people still do in Asia, especially for those under a lot of stress.
I am looking forward to read another adventure of Inspector Mislan.
I am so disappointed. I really enjoyed this book and Mislan but it is the only one available in either of the 2 libraries I have access to. I had an infusion scheduled and needed a book on my Kindle to read because a real book can be unmanageable depending on where the IV site is finally found. The comparison to Harry Bosch drew me in and it was immediately available as an e-book. At least Mislan has an intelligent, caring supervisor. The idiots are higher up. The book was a little rough around the edges. For example, he made a deal with a reporter - she'd share her information if she got the scoop. The first part of the book she actively pursued him and reminded him of the deal. Then she just vanished. I'm not sure if he ever got back to her. This author does the same thing as in the Harry Bosch books which drives me crazy. The detective is going from one place to another and the authors have to detail which streets are taken and which turns are made. All those names are totally meaningless to me and I feel they are just trying to pad the writing.