Book Review: Aunty Lee's Delights

The Fiction Addiction

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Aunty Lee's Delights(cover art from the publisher)

I'm not sure how I discovered Aunty Lee's Delights: A Singaporean Mystery, by Ovidia Yu, but, you guys, what a great find.

Aunty Lee is a caterer, making delicious Peranakan snacks and meals, when she's not getting involved in other people's lives. Aunty Lee's a yenta, although being Singaporean, she would say kaypoh instead. The chatty widow makes a memorable investigator, always curious about people and insisting she can learnt heir true character from the way they eat her cooking.

Busybody Aunty Lee is already interested in a news item about an unidentified body found on a beach near a luxury resort.  She and her maid, Nina, scour the news and gossip sites for more information, while hosting a dinner party to help her stepson, Mark, get his wine importing business going. Mark's a dilettante who quite likes talking about wine, but Mark's wife, Selena, wants him to start bringing in cash.  So there's family drama as well as a murder investigation, plus loads of food, of course. You won't really wonder who the baddie could be (spoiler: he's the one acting like a baddie) but there are smaller social twists and surprises, plus so many interesting characters to keep the pages turning.

Aunty Lee's Delights is a not-at-all-gross murder mystery with a memorable investigating aunty, and with many different cultures and backgrounds in Singapore. I read this book very quickly, and although I loved it, I thought there were some minor characters who didn't get quite enough attention.  Cherril, a flight attendant turned taitai, was a dinner guest at Aunty Lee's, and her working-class background, thirst for new skills, and uptight, upscale inlaws seemed like a fascinating combination. Also, Aunty's stepdaughter, Matilda, is mentioned but we never really meet her, and I was dying to see what she really thought of her brother.

When I started reading the second one,  Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials, they were all there! All the characters I wanted to know more about!  (I last felt like when I read Lovecraft Country after watching the TV show, and found a less-gory story with much more character development, like it was made just for me.) Aunty's back with another mystery that takes readers through different parts of Singaporean life, usually because Aunty's shown up with a box of delicious treats and a bunch of nosy questions.

For more Singaporean food, gossipy aunties, and murder, try Dial A For Aunties,

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