DAY 8: An excerpt for Jasmine Croll

08 Sep

Still groggy and stuffed up and I don’t know how these pages are going to look with my eyes fully open but then I’ve learned not to expect too much from first drafts, so… the words are getting bulked down and that’s the main thing.

Have got my 5000 words down for this week and ready to start researching for next week’s writing. Really enjoying this in spite of the throat, the eyes, the helpful doglets who try to lick me back to health if I try to lie down during the day…

What is so wonderful is finding real life people in Singapore history who were so dramatic! Like even though I’m hoping to have Chief Inspector Onraet appear regularly in the series as foil to Miss Blackmore–occasionally reeling her in, he was a pretty heroic figure in real life.

Plus he was known, apparently for warning Singapore and the other Straits Settlements about Japanese intentions years before Pearl Harbour and the Occupation but his warnings were dismissed.

Anyway a short mix of fact and fiction, today’s excerpt dedicated to Jasmine Croll who says she can’t wait…! 🙂

Chief Inspector Onraet was not a happy man that morning.

There was little in the Straits Settlements that Rene Onraet had not seen. The first gazetted officer (as opposed to an ex-army man) to head Detective Branch, he had crippled organised gambling in the 1910s, netting previously elusive organisers and crooked policemen thanks to his flawless Hokkien that allowed him to infiltrate the dens, disguised as a Chinese drain inspector and his observation that the ‘Gamblers’ Luck’ Tiger Idol was always present outside the house where the big bosses of gambling. Thanks to him many dens were closed and thirty ringleaders banished. It was said Onraet understood the diverse peoples of Singapore better than any other white man… perhaps even better than any local man could. He was not just a leader, dogged in pursuit of justice. He worked the field with his men, even pulling a rickshaw to help locate communists and gamblers. Of course rumours about his skill and drive were abundant but his was that rare case in which rumours did not match his actual achievements. He had the loyalty and confidence of his men and for obvious reasons it was best that the public did not

In 1922 he was made superintendent and director of Singapore’s Criminal Intelligence Department. In the few years since he had transformed it from a nest of jealous rivals into a cohesive unit, now called Special Branch. Special Branch dealt with racial and religious issues and handled serious crime but chiefly they monitored developments in the colony and region. This was not the most exciting work a man could do but it was necessary and important work and Chief Inspector Onraet far preferred investigating suspected bomb making equipment than the death of a young woman. Especially one found dead in the home of an acquaintance.


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