Cover Image: Soulless


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is the fourth book in the Inspector Mislan series set in Malaysia but I had no trouble jumping in and reading this one as a standalone.    Inspector Mislan is prickly and not super-attuned to social niceties as he ignores most bureaucracy and works with his partner Detective Sergeant John to investigate the grisly torture and murder of an unidentified young woman.  The story wastes no time getting started, and it’s immediately clear that this is going to be a well-executed, solid police procedural.  The thing that makes it extra interesting is the unusual setting, with the Malaysian (and later Thai) cultural context playing an important part.  The minor characters, including various colleagues and Mislan’s fed-up girlfriend, are vividly drawn and have clear personalities.  Be aware that the crime and the larger criminal scheme it represents may be a little too horrifying to make this book an easy read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for a digital advance review copy.
Was this review helpful?
In this outing, Mislan and Johan find themselves up against a baffling case - a murdered girl, with no visible signs of identity. Who killed here and why.? Their investigations will lead them into the seedy world of human trafficking, where the stakes are high, and the clientele influential. These people, Mislan observes, "... are souless, living on income from sex slaves ..". As mentioned, power and influence hold sway, and we know Mislan is not one for following the rules, putting offside those that could help him and increasing the antagonisism of those that want him out of the way.

Mislan's personal life takes a back seat to this investigation - his son is away with his ex-wife, his lover, Dr Safia is becoming distant, and Mislan seems more wrapped up in the case to notice what is going on around him.

There are many loose ends that need tying up before this case can be solved by Misland nad his team - but in the process, will Mislan be one of them?

A decent follow on for this series set in Kuala Lumpur - and the setting makes a nice change from the predominance of Euro-centric crime fiction.
Was this review helpful?
This is the fourth book of the Inspector Mislan series to be published in English.  Mislan is a detective in the capital of Kuala Lampur, where he is known for his ability to solve the most complicated crimes But with the help of his assistant Johan and his girlfriend the head of Police Forensic Science. but also is a thorn in the side of the Police Administration and will never be promoted.

A body is found on a red-light street of KL.  The body is that of a dead young girl, whose face and fingerprint have been destroyed by acid.  There are no papers on her and only two tatoos on her body give any clue as to where she is from.  The also find a clue in her stomach of an earring with Thai writing on it.  

The tatoo and earring lead Mislan and Johan to Thailand where they end up working with the Royal Thai Police section that deal with human trafficking. In the end they find who had bought and brought the girl into Malaysia, and caught her murderer.

SPOILER: the are two side stories added to the story.  Mislan's girlfriend (the Forensic Doctor) goes off to another job away from KL without telling Mislan, and he is attacked by members of the human trafficking gang.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Skyhorse Publishing for an advanced copy of this police procedural mystery. 

Police procedural stories are pretty universal. There is a body or a crime, and a group of people with the backing of the government and the taxes of the people to figure out the who, the what and why. Sometimes they are for the people's benefit, sometimes to keep the people in line, but the stories are close no matter the country, no matter the culture. One investigator trying to get to the truth, dealing with incompetence, corruption and laziness in the system they work for, no matter the consequences. Names might be different, tactics too, and technology might be hi-tech or just knocking on doors. The pursuit of justice is pretty universal, be it America, Sweden, Nigeria or Malaysia. Soulless: Inspector Mislan and the Faceless Girl by Rozlan Mohd Noor is the fourth book of the series published in America featuring the Malaysian Inspector and his team dealing with some truly hideous crimes.

A woman's body is found in an alleyway in one of the more darker parts of Kuala Lumpur. The body has been disfigured, the face and fingers destroyed by acid, leaving only two tattoos and an earring to identify her. Inspector Mislan takes the case, vowing to find out who the woman is, and somehow giving her some justice. Mislan's investigation takes him all over the city and soon to Thailand where he finds this case is much bigger than he thought it was. Soon powerful forces are gathered against him as his investigation starts involving people who love the power that wealth gives them, but not the notoriety.

This is the third Inspector Mislan book that I have read and enjoyed it, though it is a tad darker than the last books, and lacks the talk of food that filled the last books. The story is good and the detecting is really top notch. I love the talk between Mislan and his people about TV shows and how TV cops solve crimes. I also enjoy the differences in tactics and what they can and can not do in comparison to American police officers. This is highlighted by Mislan working with a Thai police officer, who is crazier than Mislan is. The cultural differences within the department add a lot to the story. Plus the minor characters are well written, and all have subplots that don't involve the main plot, but keep the story moving nonetheless. A lot happens to Mislan in this book, and the ending is a tad unexpected, so I await the next book to see what happens. 

For a fan of mysteries with a procedural bent this is a perfect book, even though it takes place outside of the United States, which to me is a plus. I find American cop books dull, where books with a different culture and location are still interesting and new. For fans of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books, or Janwillem van de Weterting's Grijpstra and De Gier series or the Colin Cotterill series featuring Dr. Siri Paiboun.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Skyhorse publishing for this digital review copy 2hich provides a unique and fascinating look into the Malaysian crime scene.
Was this review helpful?
An unsettling case will take Inspector Mislan and his team from Kuala Lumpur to the Land of Smiles, and from a dark alley to the dark web and a place where humans are made soulless. This book had suspense, intrigue, action a bit of a who done it and a very interesting storyline! I will recommend reading this book as it was well worth reading!
Was this review helpful?
Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl by Rozlan Mohd Noor begins at 4 AM in the Jalan Alor area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Every city has such an area. A place for sin whether it be drugs, gambling, or prostitution. Jalen Alor is publicly famous for a certain seafood restaurant and being an entertainment district. But, other things go on there, and that includes the dumping of a dead body.

The local police on the beat get involved because of altercation between a panicked homeless man and a pimp who was highly offended that his car was jostled by the homeless man. There was good reason for his panic. In hid drug addled state, he thought the bag was tossed from god above and was full of money. Instead, he found a body that has no face. Not that the lack of face stops the rats from coning for a feast now that the four-legged vermin in the ally can get to it.

When the crime scene forensic team arrives, it takes some doing to get the rats to back off. They have already done some damage to the body, but are not responsible for the fact there is no face. Acid did that and was also responsible for what little is left of her fingers. The situation means Inspector Mislan Latif and Detective Sergeant Johan Kamaruddin of Special Investigations (D9) are summoned to the scene to take over the case.

With no facial identification or fingerprint identification possible, it is clear that the killer or killers went to extraordinary efforts to hide the identity of the victim. The investigators know she was female and probably young and in her late teens or early twenties. It is also clear that she was tortured before death. The only clues to her identity are two tattoos. One of which is a butterfly and the other is some sort of quote or saying. 

Those tattoos are a start for Inspector Mislan in a case that will take him and Johan to various places in Thailand and back to Malaysia. As always in this series, politics, the interference or threat of interference by the rich and the powerful, are involved as are the social dynamics of culture and class across ethnic lines in Malaysian society. Author Rozlan Mohd Noor paints a rich tapestry of sight and sound in this series and does so again in Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl. 

This is the fourth book in the series and the first one I have read that seemed off at times. I don’t know if it was my lack of culture awareness or something else, but it seemed strange to have so many people smiling or amused at incredibly dark and somber moments in the book. A character will make a response to a dark bit of dialogue or scene description and be referred to as “smiling” or “laughing” with their dialogue response. That happened throughout the read and was jarring as it almost always felt very off in relation to the context of the situation. This issue is something I never noticed in previous books. 

While overall this was an enjoyable read, it was also marred by a horrible open ending in the final paragraph. An event abruptly happens at the very end of the book, in the final three sentence paragraph, and one is left totally hanging. I don’t know if this was deliberate act by the author, a publisher decision, or what, but it was a very unsatisfactory end for this read.

Soulless: Inspector Mislan And The Faceless Girl by Rozlan Mohd Noor is a good read. This reader did not find it at the same level of the previous books in the series, but it was still a good read with the caveats above. The book is currently scheduled to be released in July 2022.

My reading copy was a digital arc via net galley.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2022

Reviews, News, and More
Was this review helpful?
Truly thrilling with wonderfully written characters and break-neck pacing. 
The mystery is captivating, I'd recommend to any fans of the genre.
Was this review helpful?
Another great read from the Inspector Mislan  police procedural stories set in Malaysia. The horrendous crime at the centre of this story has shades of similarly catastrophic dealings born of corruption and greed. As with his previous book, I enjoyed following along with this instalment, along with the peeks into updates in the inspector’s own life. Looking forward to reading more of the series!
Was this review helpful?
Soulless is the fifth book in the Inspector Mislan police procedural series, set in Kualu Lumpur, Malaysia, home to the Petronas Towers, situated south of Thailand and extending south to the city state of Singapore. What strikes one reading his series is how much like a familiar American police procedural it is and how universal stories are. Nevertheless, it is steeped in Malaysian culture which sets it apart and makes it unique.

Here, Inspector Mislan is faced with a corpse which is unidentifiable as the face has been burned off and the body tortured. Without a cloud as to who the victim is or whether she is even of local origin, Mislan doggedly pursues justice for her, a quest that takes him and his abrasive manners across international borders. It is an entirely absorbing story even though there is very little shoot-em-up type of action. Mislan’s personal life takes a backseat to his work here although his ongoing romance with the coroner takes a surprising turn.
Was this review helpful?