The Umbrella Man is the second novel in the Inspector Tay series by Jake Needham. This installment starts off with an explosion in downtown Singapore that leaves Inspector Tay in the hospital. Although it is immediately linked to terrorism and is the number one priority for all law enforcement in Singapore, the not-so-obedient Tay is assigned to a lesser case.
Suffice to say, this seemingly minor case spirals into a much larger and messier web of lies and treachery. It even includes Tay’s late father, who apparently had some unsavory friends.
Interesting twist, Tay’s late mother talks to him in the novel. He is of course startled by this and thinks he is losing his mind but then his mother begins to nag him just as she did before passing away. This supernatural twist is a neat touch that reminds me of the stories I have heard about Thai people. Is this also a common belief in Singapore as well? In any case, it provides some surprise and humor for the reader and some information for poor Mr. Tay.
Poor Mr. Tay gets injured in the explosion and gets knocked unconscious twice this novel. He may be a decent inspector, but he never carries a gun and does not seem to be vert wary or street smart. An odd quirk for a cop, but Needham uses it to paint a picture of a man who smart but not very bright, sincere but generally out of touch with the world around him. Makes for a great three novels.