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Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge, by Ovidia Yu.

September 28, 2015

Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge, by Ovidia Yu.  William Morrow Paperbacks (2016), 256 pages

3 stars

An appealing mystery, the third in a series featuring a woman in Singapore who owns a restaurant, understands about foods, and is good at figuring out who has committed a crime.

Aunty Lee is a wonderfully drawn figure, something of a Southeast Asian Miss Marple. She is an observant busybody always looking for clues about people and their taste in food.  I loved the bits of advice she regularly shared. Around her she draws multi-ethnic characters, all of them sympathetically drawn. In this book, an English woman has been killed after threatening a law suit against some of Aunty Lee’s friends. Through her attention to detail and her connections with the police, Aunty Lee unravels a complicated mystery enabling everyone still alive to live happily ever after.

Ovida Yu is a resident of Singapore and a well-received author in her community.  She has published a large number of novels and plays. She is knowlegeable about the city’s residents and capable of writing entertaining accounts of them.  Her novel is full of ethnic diversity.  As often happens with books in a series, however, I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the previous books and known the backstories of the people involved in this one.

A larger problem for me was that I knew almost nothing of Singapore and its peoples, and I had trouble at times following what was being said. I simply couldn’t understand the words naming foods and identifying characters. I am sure that readers from Singapore could recognize characters ethnic identities from their names, but I could not. I did not even know what it meant that Aunty Lee herself was a “Peranakan” and that she cooked “Peranakan” dishes for her restaurant until I found on Wikipedia that she was descended from Chinese who had settle along the Malaysian Straits and had their own style of cooking.  A few words of explanation would have been useful if the book is to appeal to an international audience.

I recommend this book to those who like “cozy,” people-centered mysteries, and especially those who know and love multi-cultural Singapore.

Thanks to the publishers for sending me a digital copy of this book to review.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2015 6:17 pm

    A Singaporean version of the Alexander McCall books?

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