Singapore Fire by Murray Bailey

Blog tour: 17 February to 1 March 2021


She wants to escape
He wants to save her
But nothing is what it seems

Singapore 1954 and once again, private investigator, Ash Carter is caught between the government and the criminal gangs. It’s time for Carter to choose.

Escape now or stand and fight?

My review

Set in Singapore in the 1950s, Singapore Fire is the sixth and final book in the mystery-thriller Ash Carter series. After reading and enjoying the fifth book, Singapore Killer, last year, I was excited to see how the series would reach its conclusion, and I wasn’t disappointed!

It’s February 1954 and the story begins with a dramatic and shocking scene in an old factory where we meet businessman and head of a Chinese secret society, Andrew Yipp, 64, and three of his henchmen, including Wang, his lieutenant, who thinks nothing of killing a man they’ve been torturing for information. The dead man told them that Yipp’s assistant and mistress, Su Ling Yong, had visited the head of the second-largest secret society, Christian Chen. Yipp is not impressed by this supposed betrayal and tells Wang to find her and then mentions Ash Carter’s name …

Captain Ash Carter was in the British Army’s Royal Military Police (in the Special Investigations Branch) and then worked for the internal security secretary of the Singapore government and a private protection force in Malaya. He’s now been an independent investigator for six months (alongside providing support to the military police, 200 Provost) and a Chinese lady called Madam Chau, who we met in the previous book, is still his secretary/receptionist.

Madam Chau is a great character: hard working and very loyal to Ash but he’s rather rude and describes her as ‘extremely unattractive, with a flat face that was permanently fixed with a sour expression.’ He comments, ‘With so many beautiful girls on the island, I’d deliberately chosen one who wouldn’t appeal to me.’

Ash has had several liaisons with Su Ling during his time in Singapore. We learn, through flashbacks, that Andrew Yipp is Su Ling’s uncle and he has been abusing her since she was a young teenager. She is now Yipp’s assistant and mistress, roles that her mother used to carry out until she went missing when Su Ling was 11, which meant that Yipp and his wife adopted their niece. It turns out that Ash Carter has been having an affair with Su Ling and, as a result, he’s on very dangerous ground with Yipp!

Ash and Su Ling decide that in order for them to both keep safe, they need to escape to the Philippines during the New Year’s parade and pageant via a boat, with the help of Arthur Pope, a wealthy businessman who deals in Japanese goods and artefacts. Unfortunately, Secretary for Internal Security Philip Norris is aware of Carter and Su Ling’s relationship and he tells Carter that Yipp is funding a political group called the People’s Action Party and orders him to investigate Yipp and find some way for him to be arrested or he threatens that he will arrest Su Ling.

Yipp is definitely up to something and involved in various dodgy dealings but Ash is struggling to work out what and can’t pin anything illegal on him. There are several different strands to the story, from a Chinese gold case that Ash Carter was investigating with Chief Inspector George McNaughton of the Kuala Lumpur police around the time of the BlackJack murders (from the previous book), to a case involving the Housing Planning and Development department’s programme of renewal (re-appropriation), which is being overseen by Major Rupert Lamb and consists of people being removed from their homes as they are living in crumbling old buildings. I found it really interesting to try and work out how these elements of the story were all linked, if at all, to Yipp and his business and political interests. There were lots of different characters and, at times, I had to look back to remember who was who.

Singapore Fire is a well-plotted, gripping thriller with lots of twists and turns, tense moments and some scenes of violence. It’s an action-packed and fast-paced read with some startling revelations! Over the eight days in which the story is set, Ash Carter covers many miles in his quest to keep Su Ling safe while trying to discover what Yipp is up to and resolve all the other cases he’s working on, with the help of various acquaintances.

There are lots of political tensions in Singapore in the period in which the book is set and it seems a very volatile and tense situation, and one that’s fraught with danger; you’re never quite sure who you can trust and who’s lurking round the corner ready to attack and dispatch you, without asking any questions first! Even the police and respected government officials seem to be corrupt. Ash Carter is brave but also rather reckless at times as he dashes into situations without really being sure of what’s facing him on the other side of the door!

Overall, I really enjoyed Singapore Fire – it was an intense and absorbing story, with great descriptions of 1950s Singapore and the culture, as well as the elements of corruption and abuse. It was good to get to know Ash Carter in more urban settings and learn a bit more about him. Although I’ve read Singapore Killer, I haven’t read any of the first four books in the series but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on lots of earlier back stories. The book works fine as a standalone but I’d recommend reading the rest first. Now that the series has reached its conclusion, I’ll have to go back and read Singapore 52, Singapore Girl, Singapore Boxer and Singapore Ghost to see what I’ve missed out on!

Buy the book

Singapore Fire (Ash Carter, book 6) by Murray Bailey is released on 1 March and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

About the author

Murray Bailey got his first taste of success when he was published in The Times at 18 and in his local newspaper. Although he went on to pursue a different career, he continued to write and edit and became the editor of an international magazine and editor of four technical books.

His first work of fiction, I Dare You, was published in 2016 and The Lost Pharaoh continues the ancient Egyptian story glimpsed in Map of the Dead and is his ninth title.

Murray was born in Greater Manchester, England and has being moving south ever since. He now lives on the beautiful Dorset coast with his wife and family.

Twitter: @MurrayBaileybks
Facebook: @MurrayBaileyAuthor
Instagram: @murraybaileyauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Murray Bailey for my digital copy of Singapore Fire and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.


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