by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Never one to not take advantage of a marketing tool, or the ignorance of white people, Vera Wong Zhuzhu operates her beloved, but struggling, Vera Wang’s World-Famous Teahouse in San Francisco’s Chinatown. That her teahouse is neither world renowned nor she herself the iconic designer Vera Wang doesn’t bother Vera in the least, especially now that she is in a one-sided rivalry with the coffeehouse across the street. Vera has her daily routines, which involve texting her adult son at 4:31 a.m. to remind him to wake up and eat breakfast, texting him at 5:01 p.m. encouraging him to eat a healthy early dinner, and constantly updating on the status of available single women liking his TikToks. What is not in her usual schedule is finding a body in the middle of her teahouse, although that doesn’t stop her from helping herself to some of the evidence in order to conduct her own investigation.
It’s quite obvious that Vera is supremely confident in her ability to give advice (that many seem to ignore) and also conduct her own “amateur” investigation. Vera begins making her Murder List of suspects and motives, and topping the lists include the array of visitors who arrived not long after the discovery of Marshall Chen’s body. The young businessman’s browbeaten wife Julia feels like a failure as a mother and a wife, while his twin brother Oliver has always been designated as the lesser sibling who always takes the blame. The appearance by a young woman claiming to be a podcaster and another young man rather hesitating stating that he is a reporter has Vera adding them to her suspect list, but she also drags them into her growing circle of accomplices as she continues to investigate. Vera is determined to pursue her own detecting despite police declaring Marshall’s death the result of a fatal bird allergy, and nothing can stop Vera when she believes that she is in the right. If that means tampering with evidence and perhaps staging her own crime scene, so be it.
In her author’s note Jesse Q. Sutanto writes that plans for the third Aunties mystery book were derailed by Vera Wong, who refused to be set aside as a character demanding her own series. It’s easy to see why, as while Vera seems to be an unlikely and perhaps unlikable heroine, she quickly enchants both readers and her growing found family. Softening her bulldozer tendencies are chapters alternately narrated by Julia Chen, aspiring artist Sana Singh, insecure Riki Herwanto, and Oliver Chen, all of whom are slowly drawn into the overwhelming presence of the bossy but well-meaning woman. Their initial reluctance to follow Vera mirrors that of the reader, yet quickly all will be charmed by Vera’s genuine protectiveness of her friends and her own need for love. The moment when Vera is brought low and questions all of her decisions completely cements her place in readers’ hearts, as her hard exterior is seen as the fragile façade it truly is.
As with the two previous Aunties books, Asian cuisine and traditions are presented with tantalizing details that also highlight just how important they are to those raised with them. Fans of M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin will find this new series especially appealing, but all cozy and foodie book readers are advised to dive into this unexpected and extremely entertaining mystery.
To enter to win a copy of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “vera,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 8, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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This book looks so interesting. I can’t wait to read it!
This sounds a lot like the Auntie Lee series by Ovidia Yu! Count me in!
Adding to my TBR list. Looks like a book I would enjoy reading.
Love helicopter parents.
This one is already on my TBR list! It sounds like a charming, lighthearted, and entertaining read! I would love to read it!
Would love to get a copy, new author for me! tWarner419@aol.com
I love San Francisco’s Chinatown! I always get a great meal and the shopping can’t be beat for bargains. I look forward to reading this mystery set in Chinatown with an unusual sounding main character.
We have a winner!