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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review: Snake Agent

Snake Agent is Liz William's novel about an Occult investigator named Detective Inspector Chen. When I heard that it was set in a version of Singapore, where I grew up, I could not resist, and picked up the entire series over at Bean Online.

I was to be sorely disappointed. First of all, the novel isn't really set in Singapore, but Singapore 3, which is some sort of excuse for Williams not to do any research whatsoever about Singapore. For instance, there are references to Beijing throughout the book which indicates that Williams, like many Americans, think that Singapore is part of China. A look at any atlas or even a world map will show you where Singapore is, and it's not in China.

The novel itself is fairly trite. Detective Inspector Chen investigates a girl's murder, and then discovers it to be part of a broader plot that threatens the heavenly order. The bureaucratic view of heaven and hell come right out of Chinese culture, but everything else is made up. The result is that you go through the book with one new rule after another being turned up, and our protagonist is tossed about like a bottle on waves in the Ocean, displaying very little of the qualities we expect from Detectives or Police inspectors.

Ultimately, I finished the novel, but I want the 2 hours of my life I spent reading it back. Not recommended.

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