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It’s 1987 and in ten years’ time Britain will hand back the Crown Colony of Hong Kong to China. Detective-Inspector Scrimple hasn’t solved a crime in years, his bosses hate him, his friends laugh at him and he hasn’t had a serious girlfriend since he left England to join the Royal Hong Kong Police. But all of that is about to change.
When the dead body of a prominent expatriate is found in a garbage room, Scrimple’s boring, mediocre life is turned upside down as he gets involved with a gorgeous nightclub hostess, incurs the wrath of a powerful triad boss and is finally betrayed by his colleagues.
Hong Kong was hot and humid as Detective Inspector Scrimple came into the Report Room of Lai Chi Kok Police Station. The Duty Officer, a corpulent Chinese Station Sergeant, nodded at him as Scrimple signed himself on duty in the Occurance Book then took the lift up to the third floor where the Divisional Investigation Teams were located.
“Morning, daai-lo. You look like shit,” Ah-Chan, his Junior Investigator said with a smirk.
“Feel like shit,” Scrimple said and pulled the South China Morning Post out of his battered Cathay Pacific holdall.
“I already call canteen for your sandwich and coffee,” Ah-Chan said. “Too much drinky last night, sir?”
“How could you guess?” Scrimple said with a hint of irony that would have been lost on Ah-Chan. The Chinese lad’s English was good—and Scrimple relied heavily on him to handle the daily Cantonese workload—but not that good.
“Any cases yet?” Scrimple asked.
“Nothing, daai-lo. But lots of files brought up today.”
“I can see them.” Scrimple eyed the pale blue crime files that had been delivered for his review by Central Registry. He touched them briefly as if they were a pile of rotting fish and then decided to leave them lying in the brown plastic In- tray for a while longer. Nobody would be arrested from any intuitive detective work he managed this morning.
He rummaged in his holdall and produced a packet of Marlboros. Ah-Chan turned around and flicked a gold Cartier lighter and Scrimple took a long drag. A minute later an old man in a grubby lab coat bowed his way into the office and deposited the coffee and sandwich on the Inspector’s blotter. The sandwich wrapper was soggy from the grease and the coffee was made with powdered milk steeped in sugar but he had gotten used to it. He handed over a ten-dollar note and was given some change.
“I’m really not in the mood for any new crimes today, Ah-Chan. Can you make sure someone tells the Duty Officer?”
Ah-Chan turned from his desk and gave a small shrug. “If we lucky, should be okay. Duty Officer and Sergie have a good relationship so maybe we can make sure no offences are classified as crime unless really big ones.”
“I don’t want any more stupid car theft cases only to find that the person didn’t have the car stolen but crashed it while drinking.”
“Don’t worry, Sergie knows how to push those away. Ten minutes in the interrogation room makes the case go away.”
“Yes, make them go away. That would be really useful.” Scrimple flicked the ash into his plastic bin, which was pockmarked from cigarettes that had been extinguished on its sides. Divisional Investigation Teams picked up all initial crimes that were reported. A Crime Complaints Register, the CCR, would be opened by the Duty Officer if he felt it required the involvement of the Criminal Investigation Department, the CID. Once a CCR was open it had to be investigated and brought to some kind of conclusion. The trick was in getting the Duty Officers not to classify a minor offence as a crime.
“Another bender caught in a public toilet and sent to prison,” Scrimple said.
“Another homosexual person was convicted in Kowloon magistrate court for giving a blow job to a stranger last month.”
Ah-Chan snorted with disgust. “That too dirty. Chinese people don’t do that.”
“He was Chinese. Says here in the paper.”
Ah-Chan shook his head. In England the laws had been liberalised a long time ago but the crimes related to homosexual conduct were all still on the statute books in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Although many of the Cantonese movie and pop stars were gay, and it was generally tolerated by the police, nobody in the Chinese community was lobbying for the laws to be changed. Lewd conduct in a public place still resulted frequently in two or three years in prison.
4 Stars, classic Whodunit! “Detective-Inspector Scrimple is more than a little lazy. He doesn’t take his job very serious and urges crimes to go away. When the body of a a well known emigrant is found, Scrimple’s must actually earn his paycheck. The investigation creates powerful enemies.
Classified As Crime by Valerie Goldsilk is a classic whodunit. Goldsilk incorporated a bit of humor in this mystery. Scrimple is well developed character, very intelligent and capable but more than a bit lazy. Fans of whodunit will be entertained by Classified As Crime.” Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 432
Paper Weight (lb): 17.8
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