Summer in my part of the world brings some pretty intense temperatures and at such times I look for something light to read (when I can tear myself away from binge watching The Crown, a show I should have no interest in being a dedicated republican).
AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS is the first in what is to date a four book series of cosy style mysteries set in Yu’s native Singapore. The eponymous character, ‘Aunty’ Rosie Lee, is a wealthy widow who runs a restaurant known for its wonderful home-style cooking. Here she is hosting a series of banquets for her stepson’s latest business venture, a high-end wine club, when one of the regulars is found dead nearby.
For those who love travelling virtually via fiction there’s lots to enjoy about this book. Not only is it full of Aunty Lee’s divine-sounding food but there’s lots of local flavour in terms of language, behaviour and social commentary. Characters are a mix of ethnic Chinese, Indians, Malays and Filipinos as well as tourists from several countries which adds a realistic element to the story.
As far as the story itself goes I found AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS a bit patchy. I liked the overall mystery and its resolution, including its inclusion of an element that is both topical and quite specific to the location (I know that sounds almost pointlessly vague but I don’t want to give away too much). But a lot of this story hinges on how much the reader engages with Aunty Lee and I’m afraid I was a bit put off by the fact that she ticks every one of the boxes for this type of cosy mystery heroine (she is in the vein of Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe, though in my thinking not as successful a creation). While some of the minor characters in the book were quite nuanced and believable in the end Aunty Lee was for me over-the-top busy body type who didn’t always ring true.
Overall though the book was enjoyable enough for me to happily try another one in the series. The evocative setting, gentle humour and interesting array of minor characters provide more than many of the cosy mysteries I’ve cast aside due to their vapid nature.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Publisher Harper Collins, 2013
Length 223 pages
Format eBook (ePub)
Book Series #1 in the Aunty Lee series
Source of review copy Borrowed from the library