The Dead American by Jake Needham


“Disneyland with the death penalty.” An apt description of Singapore. We wrap up Needham’s Inspector Tay with the fourth in the series, The Dead American. Inspector Tay simply cannot stay out of trouble. He is put on suspension at the end of the third novel for doing his job just a little too well.

Now on suspension, he is approached by a beautiful American woman who offers him some under-the-table work to investigate a dead American whose body is found in Singapore. The beautiful woman also ends up dead but I’ll leave the details up to you to read it for yourself. Note that Mr. Tay never gets to have a successful relationship with any of the women he meets. They typically wind up murdered and the other lady I can think of he walks away from the relationship due to his own lack of social graces.

His supervisors offer to bring Tay back on the force but with a condition he is not willing to meet. Tay is always bumping heads with his superiors and Singaporean society yet he never takes any action to change his situation. He is bright and has lots of money in the bank but he seems to lack the agency to pursue a better life.

Needham drops great observations on Singaporean society and always contrasts it with American/Western values. Perfect for an American living in Asia.

All in all, a great finale to this series.
More books, please!

2 comments for “The Dead American by Jake Needham

  1. C.S. Page
    January 29, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Very disappointing that Jake Needham, for some reason, needs to kill off the strong, smart, clever, and, of course, beautiful women that his protagonist encounters. One gets to really enjoy them and their repartee with Sam. Is there some problem in Mr. Needham’s life that calls for this? Also, it is obvious that John August is the spitting image of Jake Needham himself, down to the hair style and round glasses (interesting and I think a positive point). Also, the author has a tendency to use exact descriptive and explanatory paragraphs from one book in another, which smacks of expediency and laziness. I was really liking the series, Sam Tay especially, until The Dead American displayed the literary weaknesses of predictable plot lines (kill off the strong women) and re-used text. Also, in The Dead American, the reason the American was killed was very easily deduced early on in the book, but the characters in the book seemed to be extremely dimwitted in figuring it out. All the other stuff about Singapore and the ambiance of the locations is very good, and coupled with Google street views, make for great entertainment and even a bit of education. I really like the fact that actual restaurants, hotels, streets, etc. are used in the novels. Fun to see where Sam lives. Just my 2 cents.

    • Steven
      February 14, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Good point. I hadn’t made the connection there. Not sure the author meant too much there. One character always has to die for the sake of drama. The fish-out-of-water female may have been the best choice.

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