Inspector Mislan & the DUKExpressway Murders by Rozlan Mohd Noor
Time Out says
Rating: 4.5/5, RM35
What a scintillating second act. If you start this new whodunit before you hit the sack, chances are you’ll stay up, forgetting sleep till you reach the last page. Rozlan Mohd Noor has scored again with his sequel which stars none other than Inspector Mislan Latif and his steadfast sidekick, Sergeant Johan Kamarudin of Special Unit D9. The finest of the Federal Territory’s boys in blue. The very heroes of Rozlan’s ‘The Yee Sang Murders’.
The writer has picked his lead from a real life event which occurred a little more than a year ago. Then a former state assemblyman, 64-yearold Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohd Noh and his 43-year-old aide Siti Rohana Ismat were found dead in his car along the North-South expressway. He had one gunshot wound, and she two. (Rozlan uses this detail in his novel). The incident was declared a murder-suicide and then closed with the Selangor police chief quoted as saying, ‘This case is considered solved, everything else is considered academic.’ No motive was provided because the police thought it was nobody else’s business. And life in the capital returned to normal, although perhaps beneath the surface indifference, incessant speculation simmered. And then the birth of a novel.
There’s greater satisfaction reading Rozlan’s second work – set during Ramadan and spilling into Eid – where the murders (the victims are Mahadi Mokshin, 60; and Zahela Jelani, 34) are solved and the criminals brought to justice. Unlike the first where the course of law is thwarted by politicians and their crony cops. Not that they don’t try again here to bury the case with the murder-suicide stamp, so as to prevent the public from knowing their illicit marriage with business. Except this time around, an emboldened Mislan persists and forces even the normally high-and-mighty – like politician Tan Sri KK – to step back and allow the inspector to do his work. Of course, his exemplary boss, Superintendent of Police, Samsiah Hassan, backs him all the way. She has her opinions of politicians: ‘People always want to be heard, to say something, even when they have nothing of substance to say. They like to hear their own voices. That’s how politics started.’ However, that’s not to say that’s the only kind of impediment to police work.
If there’s a failing in this novel, it’s the diminished exposure of the interesting and quirky characters in the forensics lab. Readers were introduced to them in the first work, and their idiosyncrasies endeared them. This time around, Inspector Mislan takes centrestage and dominates it, leaving less room for others to step on and delight us, with the exception of Audi, a college-graduate who’s nonetheless a floozy. But a delightful one. Wish there were a couple more of such new introductions in this novel. SH Lim