Aunty Lee's Delights: A Singaporean Mystery

Aunty Lee's Delights: A Singaporean Mystery

2.5 8
by Ovidia Yu

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This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie "Aunty" Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant

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

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This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie "Aunty" Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of the engaging first Singaporean mystery from Yu (Miss Moorthy Investigates), a body washes up on the resort island of Sentosa. The news of this grisly discovery catches the attention of respectable widow Rosie “Aunty” Lee, who is about to host a dinner party at her restaurant, Aunty Lee’s Delights. Meanwhile, the wife of Aunty Lee’s stepson receives a text message on her phone from the phone of one of the dinner guests, Laura Kwee: “Sorry not feeling well, can’t make it tonight.” Later, two police officers arrive at Aunty Lee’s to report that the body on the beach has been identified as Laura’s, and that it was probably in the water for at least three days. Aided by her equally endearing maid, Nina Balignasay, the perceptive Aunty Lee, who uses her Singaporean home cooking to put people at ease, sets out to solve the case. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series will find a lot to like. Agent: Priya Doraswamy, Lotus Lane Literary. (Sept.)
Louise Penny
“A delicious debut! Aunty Lee’s Delights is no mere whodunnit -- it sparkles with insight into the traditions and moral complexities of modern Singapore. Rosie Lee is a terrifically original heroine.”
Kirkus Reviews
She looks like a sweet little old lady, but she probes like a pit bull. The first body that washes up on Singapore's Sentosa Beach sets Aunty Lee's detective antennae quivering. Owner of the small cafe that bears her name, she's already notorious throughout the industry for exposing fraud among local food suppliers. Aunty Lee remembers that this beach used to be called Pulau Blakang Mati, the "Island of Death." True to form, she speculates all day about the corpse while preparing for an evening dinner party at the cafe, a mix of business and pleasure. Her stepson, Mark, and his pretentious wife, Selina, will be in attendance, along with a handful of others. Strangely, Mark and Selina's friend Laura Kwee, slated to help with wine and collecting money, fails to attend or even call. Another expected guest, Laura's friend Marianne, is also a no-show. The party is still plenty lively, with a colorful guest list. Plump Lucy Cunningham and her husband, Frank, are excited to have an authentic Shanghai experience; former flight attendant Cherril Peters is excited to have left husband Mycroft at home. Not long after, police arrive to tell Aunty Lee that Laura's body was the one found on the beach. When it is followed by a second corpse believed to be Marianne's, Aunty Lee springs into full investigative mode, often outshining the frumpy police. This delightfully anachronistic series debut from playwright and occasional novelist Yu (Miss Moorthy Investigates, 2012, etc.) boasts buoyant prose and a colorful cast, led by the lovably unstoppable sleuth herself.
Library Journal
★ 09/01/2013
Widowed Aunty Lee has two passions: the news and food. Her café is a popular Singapore institution, and she graciously supports her stepson Mark's vintner aspirations by hosting tasting dinners with ticketed guests, including some Aussie tourists. But Mark's scheming wife is not to be trusted, nor perhaps Laura, his hired assistant. When Laura doesn't show up to work the latest dinner, Aunty suspects Laura might be the unidentified dead woman found on the beach (it's on all the local news channels). When her hunch is confirmed, Aunty moves into full-on amateur sleuth mode, dragging her loyal assistant Nina into the investigation. Thankfully, Salim Mawar, the lead detective on the case, finds Aunty and Nina irresistible—and startlingly prescient. Then, when a mysterious stranger arrives from the United States, looking for Laura, the killer becomes more desperate. VERDICT Using a slightly fussy and gossipy tone, Yu has created a winning traditional-style series that's sure to go over big with fans of Tarquin Hall, Anne Zouroudi, and Alexander McCall Smith. Her protagonist, a Singaporean Miss Marple, is marvelous.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Singaporean Mystery Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Louise Penny

“A delicious debut! Aunty Lee’s Delights is no mere whodunnit — it sparkles with insight into the traditions and moral complexities of modern Singapore. Rosie Lee is a terrifically original heroine.”

Meet the Author

Ovidia Yu is one of Singapore's best-known and most acclaimed writers. She has had more than thirty plays produced and is also the author of a number of mysteries. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Iowa's International Writers Program and has been a writing fellow at the National University of Singapore.

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Aunty Lee's Delights: A Singaporean Mystery 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
SharonChance More than 1 year ago
What a pure delight to read! I want an Aunty Lee in my life. This delightful, but nosy little plump Singaporean lady could go up against Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher and come out a winner. This fun and lively mystery is fast-paced, filled with memorable characters that you will love (and in Aunty's niece-in-law's case, dislike a little!) and an intriguing mystery to boot! What more could you ask for? Plus you get to learn a whole lot about Singapore and it's foodie culture! I adored this book and hope you will rush out to discover it as well!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I live in Singapore (though am American) and didn't find these characters uphold my experience with locals and ex-pats alike. I think both are deeper and richer than found in this tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mildly interesting.  Too many poorly developed characters, finally devolving into an unlikely ending. Tiresome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The chinese japanese and thai cafes here plot is sloppy with too many introduced and dropped characters. The idea of an old asian miss marple who cooks is good but gets tangled up in too many sub combos have read second and no improvement as lost most of the "supporting cast" of first with a pscho aids patient and more impossible plotting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not finish the book did not interest me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plus asian food receipes. Plot a little confused but first in series however have read second and plot has tightened up but with loss of background setting hope third will balance out better. You really need to read this first as main cast is better introduced m.a.@sparta
KaylaBeck More than 1 year ago
Aunty Lee's Delights is a murder mystery by Ovidia Yu that is centered around Rosie "Aunty" Lee's food shop. Though murder is the main ingredient for the story, there is also a large portion of food, a dollop of Singaporean culture, a dash of familial relationships, a pinch of race relations in Singapore, and just a bit of moral questions about homosexuality stirred into the pot. The end result was delicious. Aunty Lee is a wealthy older woman who has been widowed by her much older husband. Instead of retiring comfortably with her late husband's entire fortune (he left his grown children out of the will), she immersed herself in her cooking and her shop, as well as the lives of everyone around her. One could easily say that Aunty Lee is a busybody; in fact, she is described in the book as such. "M.L. Lee described his wife's outstanding talent for being kiasu, kaipoh, em zhai se! "Kaypoh" meaning minding the business of others with as much energy as as kaiso devoted to their own." (ARC pg. 19) Despite Aunty Lee sticking her nose in EVERYTHING, this quality is one of the most endearing about her. She is sharp-witted and her advice is sound, as well as given out of love and caring. All of the supporting characters in the novel (who are all, of course, murder suspects) were taken under her wing and cared for until the investigation was over. Additionally, she involved herself in the murder investigation of the victims and the feeding of their families because of her own moral code. "I feel responsible for the people that I feed. Once my food has gone into them and become part of them and their lives, I become part of their lives. In a way I love them." (ARC pg. 162) The mystery itself in the book was not my favorite thing about the novel. Admittedly, Mystery is not a genre that I normally turn to when reading for pleasure, but I do enjoy them on occasion. I agreed to review Aunty Lee's Delights because it did not seem to be the typical food cozy or Patterson-milled novel. In actuality, it had a very literary feel to it. That being said, the mystery left me scratching my head. I like to be able to work out "Whodunnit" by the clues offered in the book (I did), but there were not many clues to the full motive. (Or I am dense.) The last thing I'll address is homosexuality in the novel. It is a fairly hot topic everywhere in the world. Yu could have made Aunty Lee's Delights a book that preaches about the right or wrongness of that lifestyle, but instead she used Aunty Lee to remind us that our own opinions are not the only ones. '"People know what's right. And what's wrong. Everyone agrees on that." "But how do you know everybody agrees?"' (ARC pg. 196) The book was a little bit more involved than that, but Aunty Lee's Delights tells the story better. Homosexuality was a surprising addition to the novel, but I'm glad it was there. Aunty Lee's Delights is a book just as beautifully written and engaging as its cover, and it has a lot more depth than I've read in mysteries in a long time. I recommend Aunty Lee's Delights to any fans of mysteries and/or anyone who loves a well-constructed and delightful busybody aunty. I also hope there will be sequels. - 3.5/5 Stars - To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.