Celebrating his unofficial engagement to Vanita Sundram by making love to her under the stars in Singapore's East Coast Park, How Kum Menon awakens to find her dead and himself the leading suspect of Inspector Ozzie D'Cruz. Only the news of two other murders the same night--another amorous couple stabbed with the same knife as Vanita--takes How Kuru off D'Cruz's Most Wanted list and puts him in the inspector's confidence. Still grieving over the unsolved murder of his own younger sister 15 years ago, D'Cruz is willing to pull out all the stops to solve the current spate of killings (there'll be more). And his investigations send the half-Chinese, half-Malay How Kuru, haunted by Vanita's restless presence and his own guilty self-doubts, to a sâ€šance arranged by Vanita's brother Kishore and entangle him in the wacky theories of FBI behavioral psychologist Dr. Quincy Sio and the scarcely less idiotic vaporings of Madame Zelda Zoroastris. Lurking all the while in the background are the variously sinister types Vanita finds more typical of contemporary Singapore--from his gossipy multiracial colleagues in the National Airline food service to Vanita's inscrutably Hindu relatives. The star of Baratham's second English publication (A Candle or the Sun, 1991, not reviewed) is scrubbed, shabby Singapore itself, which puts his cast and their obligatory mysteries quite in the shade.