Aunty Lee’s Delights
Morrow, Sep 17 2013
Aunty Lee’s Delights: A Singaporean Mystery
Straight out of an episode for Murder She Wrote or a skit on Saturday Night Live Aunty Lee’s Delights introduces so many different characters that you will have a hard time trying to figure out which one or ones you love the most. Aunty Lee is an elderly lady who owns Aunty Lee’s Delights and restaurant on the resort island of Sentosa in Singapore. The story begins with two young people taking a romantic walk on the beach only to come face to face with a body placed inside of a bag. Thinking it was a dead jellyfish imagine what happens when they realize the truth. When news of this murder reaches many of the ears of the locals you can imagine what each one speculates and the gossip that evolved. Aunty Lee loves to host wine-tasting parties that her stepson Mark runs. Hoping to enlighten many about the different wines for each course of every dinner, Mark, her stepson, loves working along with Aunty Lee. But, someone is missing as Mark’s wife, Selina receives a text from the person who is coordinating the event, Laura Kwee stating she was not going to make this particular event. No one thought it odd nor did anyone except Aunty Lee think to notify the police when she failed to respond to e-mails or calls on her cell phone.
Rosie Lee or Aunty as she wants to be called enjoys the challenge of trying to read people, their moods, thoughts and solving murders seems to be her forte. As you get to know Aunty and meet the guests at the wine tasting dinner you will encounter an Australian named Harry Sullivan that will definitely give readers much pause of thought as he appears to enjoy the dinner but something about him is quite mysterious. Next, Mark Lee who runs the dinner, has a definite style for preparing the wine and the glasses required and numbered in the order that they are to be used gives the story a humorous flavor. Selina Lee, Mark’s wife, is opinionated, prejudice against anyone that is not in the upper echelon or social class that she thinks is good enough to be in her air space, Aunty Lee who is right on target, forceful, takes matters into her own hands and could care less what other’s think when she wants to get her point across or the job done. Nina her assistant lends an interesting blend as she is loyal to Aunty, does what she requires and yet Selina thinks she is superfluous and has no real respect or use for her. The Cunningham’s are an elderly couple that supplies some warmth as you get to know them and feel how much they care about each other after many years of marriage. And let’s not forget Cherryl whose husband is quite rich but whose attention seems focused on Mark. Hearing the conversation at dinner you begin to wonder if any one of them has a kind thought for anyone but themselves, why they do not seem concerned about Laura other than the inconvenience of having to do her jobs plus the added extra guest that shows up wanting to know where someone else was. Plump, feisty, filling up plates with her amazing dishes of authentic foods from Singapore Aunty Lee’s Delights will treat readers not only to a good mystery but to some fantastic recipes that you can duplicate on your own. When the police arrive at Aunty’s door things seem to heat up.
When the Senior Staff Sergeant and his Officer show up at Aunty Lee’s door things start to heat up. Salim the Senior Staff Sergeant and Pang his Officer find questioning Aunty quite a challenge as they fail to reveal the name of the person whose body they found and by looking at their faces, their demeanor and their gestures our Aunty tells them what they failed to tell her. Laura has been murdered and she offers to send her assistant along with herself if the body needs to be identified. Added in she relates that Maryanne Peters is missing stating she was supposed to be on a holiday trip. Her close friend Carla is concerned about her and their relationship is revealed. When told by the police that her family does not want her disturbed Aunty backs off but not completely. Something is off when her close friend shows up, states that she is concerned about her disappearance. So, why aren’t the police checking it out? Aunty is upset and feels it her job to solve the case since the victim, Laura has been a guest at her table and was supposed to be there for this event. When you enter Aunty’s restaurant you can smell the delicious foods and the vivid descriptions will make your mouth water. I bet many readers would want to be a character at her table sampling the tasty morsels she served and the delicious wines.
The customs, cultures and protocols are discussed as we learn more about the police system the respect they will show for Aunty Lee and the fact that because she is of a wealthy family and quite well known might be one of the reasons they take what she relates quite seriously. Author Ovidia Yu takes readers on a tour of the many streets, shops and places within this city. Singapore sounds like a special place with so many people living there of many ethnic backgrounds and the descriptions so vivid you think you are there. But, then the damper is placed as we learn Laura’s cause of death and the author relates the research she has done about a drug called Ketamine, its effects, why people use it and why this drug was related to her death. Recounting the events of that night, listing for the police where each member of the dinner party was when the text from Laura was noted on Selina’s phone, Aunty Lee provides the right amount of information for the police without giving away all of her thoughts before trying to solve the case herself.
Each member of the dinner party questioned by the police and the outcome has yet to be revealed. Able to read the minds of her guests and people that she knows she is much more astute than most people would think at first glance. So, watch out Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple because she is definitely going to give you a run for the Sleuth of the Year Award, even if she is an amateur.
Just who decided to take out their assistant, Laura Kwee? Just what information was revealed with the police found her cell phone?
Food to entice the police, helping those in need, alluring readers to want to go to Singapore and find Aunty’s Restaurant and partake of the Café Delights. But, investigative sergeant learns a lot from Aunty Lee and her maid, Nina who is more like an assistant to her than a maid. Getting to hear their conversation you begin thinking that this murder might have some positive results for Nina.
Family trust, relationships, prejudice, opinionated characters like Harry, Frank and Salina keep the plot interesting, flowing and juicy. As we reflect on other issues brought to light including the relationship that is alluded to between Carla and Maryanne. Hearing Harry when being questioned he does not hesitate to discuss Carla and Maryanne. Why?
When Aunty Lee teams up with the police anything can happen. When we learn the truth behind Laura’s motives, what she was appeared to be doing we realize that her agenda was anything but what it appeared to be. Lies, betrayals, deceits, one smart Aunty Lee, one not so clever Laura whose outcome some might think she got her just desserts. Why did someone go to great lengths to kill her you will have to ask Aunty Lee that question? What is the end result for the killer you just won’t believe how this person is caught? When Lucy and Frank are injured and the truth behind their son if revealed we realize that the author included the right to marry anyone you want in this novel, how we learn to be more understanding of those whose views might differ than ours and we hope that Aunty Lee will be back to solve another murder real soon. Filled with suspense, humor and great recipes Aunty Lee’s Delight is one treat you don’t want to miss.
Fran Lewis: reviewer