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Mongkok Station

Needham, Jake. MONGKOK STATION (The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 6) (p. 72). Half Penny Ltd (P. Needham). Kindle Edition.

Mongkok Station returns the reader to the world of Inspector Samuel Tay, the quirky Singaporean curmudgeon. This time the setting is Hong Kong at the height of the democracy protests. I see the book divided into three main story arcs:

Sam Tay facing a life-threatening situation of his own making.

The city of Hong Kong itself and the demonstrations.

The case of a missing girl.

I listed the above in the order of importance to the book. For a mystery, one might think the case of a missing girl would be paramount. However, it takes a back seat to Sam Tay’s quirks and personal drama. So, if you have invested in Sam Tay from the previous books in the series, you’ll want to join him again. If you have not, you will wonder how this little man who chain smokes and has little interests other than reading could be a hero.

Tay stoically fears many things, and frequently they are humorously portrayed. When he’s driven through a tunnel under the Hong Kong bay, the tile reminds him of a men’s toilet, while he considers the possibility of a freighter above him ramming into the tunnel and tons of water drowning him. If he were to die, he didn’t want it to be “in something that looked like a men’s toilet.”

The book is supported by fine writing and descriptions of Hong Kong that puts you there. Jake Needham is a master of fresh metaphors. For example:

“Doris Lau's eyes hardened and she cocked her head like a dog trying to decide where to bite.”

“He slowly turned his head and looked at Tay the way he might have looked at a duck that had started singing an aria from Carmen.

“…he had a quality of wear to him, like an old leather suitcase someone had dragged through a lot of airports.”

“It began to rain then, a light mist that seemed to be less falling rain than moisture squeezing out the humid air and trying to escape.”

The strengths of the book are the immersion into Hong Kong, it’s culture, and, of course, Sam Tay, the man and his foibles.

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