Wednesday 13 September 2023

Waking the Tiger (Betancourt Mystery Series Book 1) - Mark Wightman

Singapore, 1939

A young Japanese woman is found dead on the dockside, her throat slashed

Inspector Maximo Betancourt is working a new beat, one he didn’t ask for. Following the disappearance of his wife, his life and career have fallen apart.

A distinctive tiger tattoo is the only clue to her identity

Once a rising star of Singapore CID, Betancourt has been relegated to the Marine Division, with tedious dockyard disputes and goods inspections among his new duties.

Who is she? And why are the authorities turning a blind eye?

But when a beautiful, unidentified Japanese woman is found murdered in the shadow of a warehouse owned by one of Singapore’s most powerful families, Betancourt defies orders and pursues those responsible. What he discovers will bring him into conflict with powerful enemies, and force him to face his personal demons.

What did I think?

What a fantastic debut!  Waking the Tiger is a completely gripping thriller that I absolutely raced through.  I loved everything about it: the immersive writing, the well-developed characters, the dark and sometimes seedy location, the pre-war era and the razor-sharp plot. 

I love Max Betancourt; he's a brilliant detective but there's one case he can't crack: the one relating to the disappearance of his wife.  It's like someone has pressed pause on his personal life and he can't go any further until he finds out what happened to Anna.  He's even lost touch with his daughter Lucia, who is living with her grandparents.  At least he can rely on Alex...his motorbike!

It feels as if the whole novel is written in black and white and I could imagine every scene playing out in my head as if it was on the big screen.  The mystery surrounding the murdered woman is fantastic; it feels like Max is pulling at several threads and just one more tug will see the whole thing unravel and what's hidden underneath will be revealed. 

Authentic, atmospheric and addictive, Waking the Tiger is an outstanding debut and a fantastic start to an exciting new series.  Very highly recommended.

I chose to read a digital ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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