Neil Humphreys' first crime novel, set in S'pore, hits top charts in UK, Australia
TNP football columnist and author Neil Humphreys' first crime novel hits Top 20 charts in Australia and the UK
What Agatha Christie did for The Orient Express, Neil Humphreys could do for Marina Bay Sands.
The prestigious hotel serves as the backdrop for The New Paper columnist's first crime novel - Marina Bay Sins.
The thriller revolves around the murder-suicide of an Australian expatriate businessman in a plush suite and the difficult, if brilliant, policeman who attempts to crack the case.
Humphreys' book features every stratum of society and delves into the gambling culture.
The investigation involves loan sharks, pimps, a singer and self-help guru husband. Some of the characters have been inspired by local headlines.
The 40-year-old's book is not yet available in Singapore but has already seen some success since being launched on iBooks.
Marina Bay Sins was picked to be a part of Apple iBooks' First In A Series promotion, which then saw it become a book of the month.
Says Humphreys: "This is the first time a Singaporean title has been selected for such a series."
"I'm proud as an author in Singapore to see my novel hit the Top 20 charts in Australia and the United Kingdom."
Humphreys has published five humour books, two novels on football corruption and four children's books.
He adds that his latest book's international success has caught him off guard.
On its popularity overseas, the author says: "People are intrigued by this sexy city. It is hip to be in Singapore."
He quips: "Ang mohs can't seem to get enough of it."
For those who prefer to flip pages than swipe screens, it is currently available only as an e-book but will soon be released in print.
"The physical copy of the book will be available by the first quarter of the year," he says.
NEIL HUMPHREYS' FAVOURITE CRIME NOVELS AND TV SHOWS
1. The Long Firm by Jake Arnott
It tells the story of Harry Starks, a gangster in the East End area of London in the 60s.
"Arnott recreates the period with extraordinary detail. It is incredible how he captures the mood and colour of crime. He also fictionalises real crime - especially that of notorious gangsters The Kray Twins."
2. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
An FBI profiler trying to catch a serial killer reluctantly seeks help from the genius-level killer he imprisoned.
"This is my favourite Hannibal Lecter novel. The interesting thing is not how the murder happened - but why.
"I am intrigued by what drives a person to do what they do and Harris explores this well. I also love how he portrays the tenuous relationship between (FBI profiler) Will Graham and (incarcerated killer) Lecter."
3. Cracker created by Jimmy McGovern
A 90s British TV series about a flawed but brilliant criminal psychologist who can crack suspects with mind games. But he is also a chain-smoking, gambling alcoholic whose life is a mess.
"The lead character, Dr Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald, is a classic anti-hero - an almost reprehensible human being but also quite the genius.
"There are shades of this aspect in my novel's main character, Detective Inspector Stanley Low."
4. Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante
Detective Inspector Jane Tennison takes on a murder case, institutionalised misogyny and a lead suspect with very little evidence against him.
"For some time, Prime Suspect was my constant companion. I read it religiously just for its procedural elements.
"It pays so much attention to detail and the nitty-gritty of police work."
5. The Wire created by David Simon
Multi-faceted five-season US cable series about the fight against narcotics in the city of Baltimore. Often cited as one of the greatest ever TV shows.
"The way Simon writes about the different classes has been likened to Charles Dickens. The Wire is a great novel presented in the form of a TV series. It explores Baltimore's war on drugs on every level - from the dealers to the politicians."
Like a novel, you cannot join it midway. You have to watch it from beginning to end.