BuySingLit (BSL): We hear that there has been a murder up on Frangipani Hill. What happened?
Su Lin: The Palins’ governess was the poor girl found dead under the frangipani tree last week. Chief Inspector Le Froy didn’t like it when I offered to help Miss Nessa Palin look after Dee Dee at Government House. I think I may have been too nosy for him!
My grandmother sent me to study at the Mission School thinking I might learn enough English to be a salesgirl at the Bata shoe store in Capitol Building. There I learned to read, which opened up my life.
Actually, my big dream is of someday being a lady journalist like Henrietta Stackpole who I think is by far most interesting character in that book Miss Nessa lent me.
BSL: Who is Chief Inspector Le Froy? Tell us a bit about him.
Su Lin: I’ve only just met Chief Inspector Le Froy in person. But I’ve heard a lot about him, especially how much he’s like the famous Chief Inspector Rene Onraet. Do you know he actually speaks Malay and Chinese dialects? He even went undercover once as a Chinese drain inspector.
(She looks around carefully and her voice drops into a whisper)
I’ve also heard he came out East after his wife died mysteriously, but he never talks about her. *
*Curious about what happened to Le Froy’s Wife? Look out for The Paper Bark Tree Mystery (coming 2019) for the answer.
BSL: Le Froy sounds like a great detective. What do you think is the most important quality of a good detective?
Su Lin: To be willing to do all you can do and to learn to do all that you can’t. Here in Colonial Singapore, it’s how we survive. And to be a good detective or good at anything else, the most important thing is to stay alive long enough to practice.
Now more people are dying around us, I may even be a suspect. I’m keeping my eyes open and trying to figure things out so that Dee Dee and I don’t end up as the next victims!
BSL: Good luck with that Su Lin, but before we let you get back to finding the answers, tell us one mystery about you?
Su Lin: I’ve always wondered how my life would have turned out if my parents were still alive. My parents’ death soon after I was born marked me as ‘bad luck’, and my polio limp means I am unlikely to find a good husband. Or worse, if my grandmother had done as the fortune tellers advised and given me away or had me put down a well.