Publisher: William Morrow
Published: September 30, 2014
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com
Law firm owner, Mabel Sung has just made her daughter, Sharon, partner which is cause for celebration. Aunty Lee has gotten the job as caterer—a major feather in her cap. While she is known for unique and fabulously tasty dishes, for this event she is determined to make something memorable. Unfortunately for Aunty Lee, it’s not the food that is memorable, but the fact that Mabel and her son die in the middle of the party. Worse, it looks like it is Aunty’s famous stewed chicken that killed the Sung family members.
On top of that rumors are flying about town about illegal transplants. While illegal, people desperate for money are still selling, or trying to see their body parts. With her café closed because of the tainted food investigation what is Aunty to do but to start investigating?
I enjoyed Ovidia Yu’s first Singporean Mystery, AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS. Life got away from me and it wasn’t until this past weekend I realized I hadn’t read book 2, AUNTY LEE’S DEADLY SPECIALS yet—with book 3 due out any day.
Yu has a unique voice. While much of AUNTY LEE’S DEADLY SPECIALS has a lot of narrative, more than you would expect, Yu’s writing gives you the feeling of sitting in her living room enjoying one of Aunty’s dishes while the author tells the story. You’re reading, but you have the sense of hearing Yu tell you what has come to pass. There were times when I felt some of the comments were slightly off, but it’s just part of the character as well as Yu’s way of introducing readers to the mind-set of Singaporeans. There is a frankness and honesty to the characters that is often lacking in our day-to-day dealings, particularly in the west.
The book also delves into the dark side of organ donation…or purchasing. You can read the story as a good mystery or you can look at the cultural and dark side of some human beings. There were times I felt the story dragged. Those points were just too burdened with detail that didn’t add to the story. There is a strong focus on food – not a good book to read if you’re hungry. There is some wonderful wisdom in the pages as well – most notably for me is when Aunty Lee considers that you can learn a lot from the way people eat. For instance, if someone is wolfing down an expensive dish and not really tasting the food, it’s about the cost/money/prestige and not enjoying a good meal. And if that’s how they eat, that’s how they treat everything.
There are other fun yet educational life lessons through the book as well as an enticing mystery.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.