After the Inquiry

My second novel, After the Inquiry, was published by Ethos Books in March 2021. A second edition, with a new cover, was released in April 2023.

Police sergeant Hafiz lies in a coma after a gunshot to the head. The investigation by Internal Affairs uncovered a game of Russian roulette gone wrong, and the case is now closed. But there are rumbles of concern in the Ministry, and middle-aged civil servant Boon Teck—assisted by young colleague Nithya—is dispatched to take another look.

Suffused with mystery and intrigue, After the Inquiry steps into the mirror maze of Singapore’s bureaucracy, where silvered surfaces hide troubling secrets, and those who search for the truth risk getting lost…


Listed in Rest of World’s 2022 reading guide; named by the Straits Times as one of the 10 best books of 2021

“Exceptional… an unsettling insight into bureaucratic cruelty, and the best thing I’ve read from Singapore for years and years.” (Peter Guest, journalist)

“Tan’s unsettling read shows how individual acts of ambition and callousness in a system that prioritizes stability over humanity add up to a banal, but fundamental evil.” (Meghan Tobin, Rest of World)

After the Inquiry is a riveting novel that casually exposes the pitfalls of our iron-clad officialdom. Through her incisive, witty prose, Jolene Tan presents a protagonist who is so comfortably entrenched in our systems that he doesn’t know where they end and where he begins. Part mystery, part character study, this novel reminds us of the shadow narratives that run parallel to the ones we are told about Singapore society’s fine-tuned machinery.” (Balli Kaur Jaswal, author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows)

After the Inquiry lays bare the human cost of Singapore’s much-vaunted stability, and asks who must be thrown overboard in order for the boat not to be rocked. Using the format of a government inquiry into a violent incident, Jolene Tan carries out her own investigation into the machinations of state apparatus, and presents her findings without comment—the results speak for themselves. A masterpiece of meticulous construction, with a central character whose voice is all the more chilling for its banality.” (Jeremy Tiang, winner of the Singapore Literature Prize 2018 (Fiction) for State of Emergency)

“Chilling in his reptilian intelligence, Jolene Tan’s protagonist brings to mind Ishiguro’s butler and Adiga’s “white tiger”. After the Inquiry is an incisive portrayal of hierarchy, (a)morality, and authoritarianism.” (Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared)

“A gripping novel, both a thriller and an examination into the dark soul of Singaporean bureaucracy. Written in the form of a series of reports, it demonstrates how cool, surgical language can rationalise even the most violent prejudices. A chilling and unforgettable portrait of a functionary who has found all the ways to checkmate his own conscience.” (Alfian Sa’at, resident playwright of Wild Rice and author of Corridor and Malay Sketches)

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