Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Review: Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl by Rozlan Mohd Noor

While I reviewed this book back in April because of being able to get the read via NetGalley, today is publication day so I am reminding you of the book today.


Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl by Rozlan Mohd Noor begins at 4 AM in the Jalan Alor area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Every city has such an area. A place for sin whether it be drugs, gambling, or prostitution. Jalen Alor is publicly famous for a certain seafood restaurant and being an entertainment district. But, other things go on there, and that includes the dumping of a dead body.

The local police on the beat get involved because of altercation between a panicked homeless man and a pimp who was highly offended that his car was jostled by the homeless man. There was good reason for his panic. In hid drug addled state, he thought the bag was tossed from god above and was full of money. Instead, he found a body that has no face. Not that the lack of face stops the rats from coning for a feast now that the four-legged vermin in the ally can get to it.

When the crime scene forensic team arrives, it takes some doing to get the rats to back off. They have already done some damage to the body, but are not responsible for the fact there is no face. Acid did that and was also responsible for what little is left of her fingers. The situation means Inspector Mislan Latif and Detective Sergeant Johan Kamaruddin of Special Investigations (D9) are summoned to the scene to take over the case.

With no facial identification or fingerprint identification possible, it is clear that the killer or killers went to extraordinary efforts to hide the identity of the victim. The investigators know she was female and probably young and in her late teens or early twenties. It is also clear that she was tortured before death. The only clues to her identity are two tattoos. One of which is a butterfly and the other is some sort of quote or saying.

Those tattoos are a start for Inspector Mislan in a case that will take him and Johan to various places in Thailand and back to Malaysia. As always in this series, politics, the interference or threat of interference by the rich and the powerful, are involved as are the social dynamics of culture and class across ethnic lines in Malaysian society. Author Rozlan Mohd Noor paints a rich tapestry of sight and sound in this series and does so again in Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl.

This is the fourth book in the series and the first one I have read that seemed off at times. I don’t know if it was my lack of culture awareness or something else, but it seemed strange to have so many people smiling or amused at incredibly dark and somber moments in the book. A character will make a response to a dark bit of dialogue or scene description and be referred to as “smiling” or “laughing” with their dialogue response. That happened throughout the read and was jarring as it almost always felt very off in relation to the context of the situation. This issue is something I never noticed in previous books.

While overall this was an enjoyable read, it was also marred by a horrible open ending in the final paragraph. An event abruptly happens at the very end of the book, in the final three sentence paragraph, and one is left totally hanging. I don’t know if this was deliberate act by the author, a publisher decision, or what, but it was a very unsatisfactory end for this read.

Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl by Rozlan Mohd Noor is a good read. This reader did not find it at the same level of the previous books in the series, but it was still a good read with the caveats above. The book is currently scheduled to be released in July 2022.


The previous books in the series and my reviews:

21 Immortals: Inspector Mislan and the Yee Sang Murders (June 2021)

DUKE: Inspector Mislan and The Expressway Murders (August 2021)

UTube: Inspector Mislan and the Emancipatist Conspiracy (October 2021)


My reading copy was a digital arc via NetGalley.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2022

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