I had always enjoyed Neil Humphreys‘ witty columns in the local newspaper and had a good time reading all his first four books about Singapore.
I came across his latest book, Match Fixer, while shopping for reading material to kill time during my reservist.
Unlike most Singaporean males, I am not a big soccer fan. I do not play soccer, neither do I watch soccer. In fact, I believe I have never even played a full game of soccer before in my entire life. The few times I played, I was forced to do so during primary school PE lessons and was always made to play the defender position which other kids shun.
Nonetheless, I bought the book because I have faith in Neil Humphreys and was looking forward to a light, humourous read.
Alas, I was left disappointed this time.
First off, the book is a fictional novel. Do not be mislead by the book cover and synopsis at the back into believing it’s non-fiction. There’s a fictional disclaimer if you bother to flip a few pages into the book.
The synopsis on Neil’s website is as follows:
Neil’s debut novel, Match Fixer, takes place inside the murky underbelly of Asian football. ‘Squeaky-clean’ Singapore plays host to betting syndicates, which have for decades fed off the insatiable illegal gambling habits of the local population and made a select few bookies very rich and far too powerful.
Corruption is destroying The Beautiful Game in Asia and has spread its tentacles into the UK via spread betting cartels. Floodlights have been knocked out. Players jailed. Questions asked.
It sounds pretty exciting isn’t it? Pity the plot fell kind of flat. There was a surprise ending to the story which saved the plot a bit, otherwise, the storyline was too predictable. As a result, the book appears a tad draggy as you flip each page, waiting to read what you already more or less know will happen.
The book is not completely bad though. The characters in the book were pretty believable and distinctively Singaporean. There’s the villain, Tiger, a typical Singapore bookie; a SPG Malay girl, Yati; a black rapper wannabe Indian artist and of course, the protagonist, Chris Osborne, the ang moh expat footballer.
Also, do take into account that I am NOT a soccer fan AT ALL. Given that the book was centered on soccer, it might have affected my reading pleasure too.
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