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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Auntie Lee's Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu (Auntie Lee #3)

Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge (Singaporean Mystery, #3)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.

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.


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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