About the book Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge
Rosie “Aunty” Lee—feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant—is back in another delectable, witty mystery set in Singapore.
Slightly hobbled by a twisted ankle, crime-solving restaurateur Aunty Lee begrudgingly agrees to take a rest from running her famous café, Aunty Lee’s Delights, and turns over operations to her friend and new business partner Cherril.
The café serves as a meeting place for an animal rescue society that Cherril once supported. They were forced to dissolve three years earlier after a British expat killed the puppy she’d adopted, sparking a firestorm of scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace, but has returned with an ax to grind (and a lawsuit). At the café one afternoon, Cherril receives word that Allison has been found dead in her hotel—and foul play is suspected. When a veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal, is found dead, suspicion soon falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder—and in a tightly knit, law-and-order society like Singapore, everyone is on edge.
Before anyone else gets hurt—and to save her business—Aunty Lee must get to the bottom of what really happened three years earlier, and figure out who is to be trusted in this tangled web of scandal and lies.
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Ovidia Yu is one of Singapore’s best-known and most acclaimed writers. She has had more than thirty plays produced and is also the author of a number of mysteries. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Iowa’s International Writers Program and has been a writing fellow at the National University of Singapore.
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This novel hits the ground running, opening with an explosion at a vet clinic, and never stopping until the final scene. From the start, the characters were so vivid, so engaging, that I didn’t even realize this was book three in a series. (Now that I have, I’m looking forward to going back and reading the prior installments.)
From the start, I was in love with Aunty Lee, who is sort of like a Singaporean Mrs. Pollifax. What I thought was really amazing about her was that she didn’t have any of the judgemental tendencies that a Western character would have – instead, even the worst of the people she interacted with were seen through the eyes of someone who lived the words ‘compassion’ and ‘mercy’ as if they’d been bred into her.
Similarly, Allison Love, the ex-pat who left and then returned, was as real, as dimensional, as anyone I’ve ever known. I felt bad for her, and I also wanted to know more of her backstory (see paragraph one).
What I loved about this novel was that the mystery, while there, was never screaming, “Solve me, solve me!” Sure, some elements were easy to predict, but author Yu did an amazing job of keeping us guessing about other elements to the very end. I like that, and I’ve gotten so complacent about always being ‘ahead’ that when I wasn’t it was both surprising and refreshing.
I also loved the ‘foodie’ elements of this novel. I didn’t count the recipes – there were somewhere between five and a thousand – but every time food was mentioned, I wanted it to magically appear in front of me. The few times I’ve had Singaporean food (at restaurants like Straits and Five Foot Way, both in California) I’ve really enjoyed the flavors, and I found myself longing for them as I read.
I also loved that Yu seamlessly worked in elements of Singaporean culture. I felt as though her decision to include that made me experience this novel – which I almost underestimated as ‘just another formulaic foodie mystery’ – on many, many levels.
Seriously, if you love a good mystery, with well drawn characters, a plot that is complex enough to keep you thinking, and a dash of culture on the side, you need to read Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge.
Goes well with pineapple tarts (or any fruit cookie) and hot tea.
Ovidia’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, April 5th: FictionZeal
Wednesday, April 6th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Friday, April 8th: In Bed with Books
Monday, April 11th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, April 12th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, April 13th: Book Journey
Thursday, April 14th: Bibliotica
Friday, April 15th: Reading to Distraction
Monday, April 18th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Tuesday, April 19th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, April 20th: Reading Reality
Thursday, April 21st: Kahakai Kitchen
Friday, April 22nd: A Chick Who Reads