The review this time is on UTube: Inspector Mislan and the UTube Serial Rapes by Rozlan Mohd Noor. It’s been a while since I read an English book written by a Malaysian author and so this book was refreshing until the very end.
I bought this book as a reference for my own personal writing as the author used to work for the Royal Malaysian Police force and hence, I wanted to learn more on the organization; the hierarchy, the setups of a criminal investigation taskforce. In honesty, I got more than I could ever asked for.
As the title suggests, the story centres on a series of rape cases reported around the city center with Inspector Sherry and Detective Deena from the Sexual and Child Abuse Investigation Division being called to one of the victim’s house for investigation. The victim goes on to say that she did not allow her attacker in and that she was quite intoxicated from a party she had went to early on the day.
Everything seemed to be a routine investigation at first; the victim was taken to a hospital for treatment and observation while further tests was also done to determine if the victim was drugged by her attacker. However, a text message that was sent to her alerting her on the upload of a Youtube video of her assault that went viral was too much for the victim to handle; she chose to commit suicide as she couldn’t bear the shame she felt.
A second case that came up introduces the readers to Inspector Mislan. Since this is the third book of this series, newbie readers like me wouldn’t have been familiar with Mislan’s way of investigating; however it is not difficult to catch a gist on how Mislan’s mind works. He is a no-nonsense inspector who doesn’t care about rules and regulations; as long as he got the job done, and the murderer behind bars.
This book is jammed-packed with police terminology, something someone like me would truly enjoy reading and learning through as not many websites online or books provide sufficient information on our police force. Most of us only know about crime scene investigations based on what we watched on C.S.I (Crime Scene Investigation).
What piqued my interest was the motive behind the murder and the raping. While at first, the raping are seen as being carried out with meticulous planning (it was in no way a spur-of-the-moment-kind-of-crime), after a while into the book, both the readers and Mislan will come across the motive for the raping and the murder – which, additionally could be surprising for some.
There’s nothing to indicate that these were crimes of lust, or opportunity. The vics were meticulously selected, possibly monitored for days, weeks, even months, before they were raped.” He shakes his head, “These were definitely not one-man jobs. And, I won’t be surprised, if they have a list of potential vics identified.
In total, four rapes occurred – the first led to a suicide, while the second resulted in a bloody murder being committed – and the common factor in all these cases was that the victims were each in a relationship with the member of the same sex, or in another term, the victims were actually lesbians. While this subject might be considered taboo to some, the rise of LGBT amongst Malaysians cannot be denied, more so with the establishment of groups and events such as Seksualiti Merdeka.
I had truly enjoyed the flow of the book, the way the author had introduced the characters and made them play their roles splendidly. Mislan’s dynamic personality gels well with Johan, his faithful watchdog. The sudden inclusion of Inspector Sherry into the investigation certainly did not sit well with Mislan, who was too used to being allowed to run free without any leash put upon him. Of course, one could not help but notice a hint of predictability with the fact that 1. Mislan’s inclusion into such a high profile investigation did not sit well with certain higher-ups and 2. The unlikely partnership between Sherry (the good cop) and Mislan (the bad cop) resulted in the bad cop still doing what he likes and getting away with it.
In certain ways, we can say that the theme of morality in this book is one that is subjective in nature. Mislan is a divorcee, has custody over his son and is in a relationship with Dr.Safia. There are instances where the nature of his relationship takes a more intimate route, one that we can hardly see in a Malaysian-published book. Furthermore, Mislan was not turned off or appalled with the knowledge that the victims were lesbians; in fact, he did not cringe at the information and had treated the case like any other cases that he had investigated before.
While it cannot be said that the author supports the LGBT movement or the personal rights of anyone to practice whichever sexuality that they are interested in, his portrayal of Mislan as someone who is open and accepting towards LGBT could be an indicator towards the author’s personal take on this matter.
“Nothing wrong? What do you call these?” Mislan snaps at him, banging the leaflets on the table, making the detainee flinch. “Inciting violence against the LGBT; labelling them freaks, deviants and polluters of society.”
“Their lifestyle is against the teaching of Islam and as a Muslim…”
“You’re right. It’s their lifestyle. Who appointed you the guardian of their lifestyle? They do not propagate their lifestyle, nor do they incite others to denounce yours…”
… “And you think they are sick? It’s people like you who are sick,” Mislan snarls at him….
The further breakdown of the cases takes on a surprising move, albeit one that is almost too common in real life. The culprit that is responsible for this hate-crime is someone who was left by his wife in favour of another woman. It could be seen that this man felt his ego as a man ridiculed and made light of and hence incited such a hate crime in order to ‘punish’ and ‘fix’ lesbians who are seen as women with some sort of illness.
Of course, this is not surprising as a number of religious sect in this world has this kind of ‘treatment’ for homosexuals; having the men rape the women in order to ‘cure’ her or ‘revert’ her back to her original self is something that is rampant in the Middle East countries and it is a quite well known fact that some Malaysian Muslims lead a life in Islam based on the portrayal of their Middle Eastern brothers.
Towards the end, the culprit gets off scot-free, simply because he has ‘connections’ with important people, once again, something that is almost too common in real life. However, Mislan once again, defies the law and the orders of his superiors and becomes a whistle-blower, leaking the information of the then closed case to a reporter and sending the classified files of the case (files that he shouldn’t have had in the first place) to the Selangor police branch as his logic was that KL branch was told to close the case, but not the Selangor one.
As mentioned previously, I enjoyed the flow of the book as it went quite smoothly, at least to my liking. I would have preferred if the author had introduced the terminologies in a more fluid way rather than in an awkward and sometimes, in-your-face way as it throws me off from my rhythm of reading. While I do appreciate the fact that the author took time to explain those terminologies, having them fluidly placed in such a way that we aren’t aware that they are there seems like a better alternative.
However, regardless of that miniscule flaw, the whole book was certainly an enjoyable read, one that even non-mystery/crime readers could enjoy. The LGBT theme in this book is certainly quite light than those that we can read from our American or English counterparts, however, in my opinion, this is a solid book under Rozlan and Silverfish.
….Deena snaps at him, “Take care of your grave and I’ll take care of mine. Now shut up and watch the video.”….. “People like you make me wish I were a lesbian, so that I could give you all bloody heart attacks,” she says.