With all the holiday excitement over and my reading pretty much back to normal, we’re in the murder mystery end of my reading for this week’s BotW, Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu. I picked this up on a whim from a charity bookshop in Westminster on my lunch break from my local elections results shift back in May and I’m really glad I did. In fact that bookshop trip provided a few books from authors that I hadn’t heard of before that really, really appealed to me. I think it’s location meant that it had a different selection of books from a lot of the charity shops I’ve been in recently. And I’m always after new voices and new ideas for reading material!
When her client and her sick son are found dead in his bedroom during a garden party that she is catering, Aunty Lee finds her food under suspicion. The intrepid widow starts to investigate, but when her restaurant and kitchen are shut down because of the influential connections of the victims, she redoubled her efforts. Meanwhile the police officer in charge of the investigation finds his efforts hampered by an officious and over zealous junior officer as well as political pressure to blame the food and let it go. What really killed Mabel Sung and her son Leonard, how does a dead Chinese man fit in and who is it that is so desperate to cover everything up?
I’ve been describing this to people as Crazy Rich Asians meets cozy crime. It’s got some of the elements of the super rich privileged lifestyle that you find in Kevin Kwan’s novel but also the amateur detective trying to save their business element that I love in so many small town cozy crime novels. Aunty Lee is a great character – an older widow who talks to photos of her dead husband that are on the wall in every room of her house and restaurant, she has an annoying stepson and daughter-in-law and a band of loyal friends. This is the second in the series and I still feel like I’m missing a bit of Aunty Lee’s back story, but I enjoyed this so much I didn’t care!
I hadn’t come across Ovidia Yu before – my copy of this is also clearly a US edition – but having read this I’m really keen to read more from her. This is a well-written page turner with a clever plot and a brilliant cast of characters. I also loved the setting – Singaporean life and culture is brought to life so vividly in this – with the mix of cultures, backgrounds and languages with a lot of what felt like really good insider detail.
Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials is available on Kindle and Kobo and in paperback – although I suspect it’s going to be an order it in to the bookstore sort of book rather than a find-it-on-the-shelf one. I’ll definitely be looking for more from Ovidia Yu – there are three other Aunty Lee books and she’s written other books that I like the look of as well, because of course what I need is more books on the to-read shelf…
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