Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: 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.
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.
Premise of the story is, Allison Love is brutally murdered in her hotel room prior to an arranged meeting with Brian, Josephine and Cherril over a pending lawsuit that the three ruined Allison's marriage and life. Valerie Love, Allison's sister, is left traumatized and alone in hateful Singapore and Auntie Lee takes her in.
As the murder investigation unfolds, Auntie Lee begins to realize there is more to this than meets the eye, and pulling and pushing a few strings herself, starts to unravel a complex tale of love and revenge.
This installment was slow going. I had a difficult time feeling engaged in any way and had trouble sympathizing, empathizing, relating to or with any of the characters. Auntie Lee is restricted to limited walking after a tumble off a makeshift step-stool. She is struggling to feel engaged as life in her shop goes on without her.
Valerie Love is just annoying, which is, ultimately, the point. But, for the 368 pages in which I had to read about her being annoying, it grated on my nerves rather than eliciting a feeling of suspense and empathy. This right here was probably the main reason I found the book to be tedious. Add in the issue of Valerie's calling people "stupid bitches" or "stupid sluts" and similar and she was just not a likeable or empathize-able character.
Josephine and Brian were two dimensional to really develop any thoughts for them. Cherill was carrying her own fears and secrets, but by the time it came for her big reveal, it came across more as a "huh?" and "meh".
What perplexed me and to which I found somewhat uncomfortable as the book progressed, was the constant reference to Valerie (and others) being fat. As in, Valerie is the pale fat sister. I can see the reference once, but the commentary about people being fat was constant. I am uncertain if this is a Singaporean thing, or an attempt to Westernize the book and thus, a commentary on how Westerner's are all overweight.
About the only thing I enjoyed was the few scenes with Nina, Inspector Salim, and Commissioner Raja. And Auntie Lee ordering too many mangoes.
So, ultimately, not my favorite in the series. This one lost some of the quirky charm the first two books had and became a long, uncomfortable read. Recommended with reservations.
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