cover image Soulless: Inspector Mislan and the Faceless Girl

Soulless: Inspector Mislan and the Faceless Girl

Rozlan Mohd Noor. Arcade CrimeWise, $26.99 (312p) ISBN 978-1-950691-43-2

At the start of Noor’s superb fourth novel featuring Insp. Mislan Latif of Kuala Lumpur’s Special Investigation Unit (after 2021’s UTube: Inspector Mislan and the Emancipatist Conspiracy), a drug addict opens an abandoned duffel bag he finds in an alley in a disreputable part of the capital city, hoping it contains something he can profit from. Inside is the body of a woman whose face and fingers have been burned off with acid; the autopsy reveals the disfigurement happened while she was still alive. Identifying the victim is a challenge, but Mislan overcomes resistance to his inquiries and follows a trail of clues that takes him to Thailand, where he has no legal authority. Noor, a veteran of the Malaysian CID, excels at nailing the details of dull, shoe-leather police work, contrasting the quotidian routines with the grim crimes driving the plot and the complicity of those in power who treat some human life as worthless. The ending doesn’t pull any punches and radically changes the series’ status quo. Fans of hard-edged crime fiction from authors such as James Ellroy and Paul Cleave will be riveted. (July)