Thursday, November 14, 2013

{Review} AUNTY LEE'S DELIGHTS by Ovidia Yu

ISBN #: 978-0062227157
Page Count: 288
Copyright: September 17, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

(Taken from back cover)

After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's "tai tai," an idle rich lady. Instead she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.

The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee's henpecked stepson, Mark, his social-climbing wife, Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder are Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim, who quickly discover that Aunty Lee's sharp nose for intrigue can sniff out clues that elude law enforcers.

Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Charlene's Review:

Aunty Lee, a widowed, wealthy busybody runs a restaurant that pairs wine and Singaporean dishes. When a body washes up on the beach, and two diners go missing, Aunty Lee knows there is a connection. While the authorities question the dinner party guests, Aunty Lee works on her own investigation.

I looked forward to reading this "foodie novel" for various reasons. Learning more of a new culture, and its cuisine is always enjoyable for me. Aunty Lee came across as a real sassy heroine, but I didn’t feel the connection with the characters as much as I’d like, or gain enough insight into Singapore and it’s dishes to satisfy. There were far too many undertones happening that didn’t help fill out the plot, although I assume that Ms. Yu was setting the reader up for future Aunty Lee mysteries.

All that being said, I wasn’t completely dissatisfied. There was a grace and humor to Aunty Lee that I enjoyed, and the food, while not thoroughly described, sounds amazing. I would have loved to learn more through this novel. The accompanying publicity pamphlet I received with the book held quite a bit more information than the novel, about "All Things Singapore."

I would be open to reading any follow-up mysteries, just to see if the characters are more fleshed out, and more culture revealed. Perhaps, with this novel, I was expecting too much. This is a mystery for those that like their mysteries light. Pleasant enough reading, but left me hungry for more.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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