The Frangipani Tree Mystery [Ovidia Yu]

Date Started: 2 June, 2021

Date Completed: 5 June, 2021

Source: Amazon India Kindle Store

Goodreads Summary:

First in a delightfully charming crime series set in 1930s Singapore, introducing amateur sleuth SuLin, a local girl stepping in as governess for the Acting Governor of Singapore.

1936 in the Crown Colony of Singapore, and the British abdication crisis and rising Japanese threat seem very far away. When the Irish nanny looking after Acting Governor Palin’s daughter dies suddenly – and in mysterious circumstances – mission school-educated local girl SuLin – an aspiring journalist trying to escape an arranged marriage – is invited to take her place.

But then another murder at the residence occurs and it seems very likely that a killer is stalking the corridors of Government House. It now takes all SuLin’s traditional skills and intelligence to help British-born Chief Inspector Thomas LeFroy solve the murders – and escape with her own life.

Goodreads: The Frangipani Tree Mystery

Notes:

  • After reading Aunty Lee’s Delights about a year and a half ago, and not having been super impressed, I didn’t continue with any more Ovidia Yu. But then second lockdown hit, my concentration went to pieces, and I decided that reading at all was more important than waiting to get my concentration back until I could read something substantial. So, back to murder mysteries.
  • Maybe it’s the lockdown effect, but I liked this much more than Aunty Lee’s Delights. In its favour:
    • I enjoyed the 1930s setting
    • It didn’t have the jarring sensation that ALD had, where we get to see the perspective of each character one by one. For the most part, we get Su Lin’s first person narrative, and in only a few chapters, third person narration but with Le Froy’s point of view.
  • Shivani was asking me if anything known about Singapore would come up, while also expressing skepticism that anything we knew would be there in 1930s Singapore. But there was quite a bit!
    • Bukit Timah serves as the setting (as the seat of Government)
    • Apparently Macritchie Road used to be the red light area?
    • Su Lin’s family lives in Katong, which in 2017 to 2019 was where we used to go for really expensive brunches.
  • Something that I found frustrating both in this and in ALD was that the main character just seems to be magically connected or have relatives who are magically connected to all sorts of gossip and intel.
  • I really liked Harry as a character, but also felt that he could have been written more consistently.
  • As to the murder mystery… I’m not sure if it counts as cheating or not. Maybe the roster of suspects was too small for it to be truly fair.
  • Lots of white sahib noblesse oblige racism showcased in the book, but very deftly handled.

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