Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials [Ovidia Yu]

Date Started: 4 February 2022

Date Completed: 5 February 2022

Source: Amazon India Kindle Store

Goodreads Summary:

Rosie “Aunty” Lee, the feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant, is back in another delectable, witty mystery involving scandal and murder among the city’s elite.

Few know more about what goes on in Singapore than Aunty Lee. When a scandal over illegal organ donation involving prominent citizens makes news, she already has a list of suspects. There’s no time to snoop, though—Aunty Lee’s Delights is catering a brunch for local socialites Henry and Mabel Sung at their opulent house.

Rumor has it that the Sung’s fortune is in trouble, and Aunty Lee wonders if the gossip is true. But soon after arriving at the Sung’s house, her curiosity turns to suspicion. Why is a storage house she discovers locked? What is the couple arguing about behind closed doors? Where is the guest of honor who never showed up?

Then, Mabel Sung and her son Leonard are found dead. The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee’s special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. Aunty Lee has never carelessly prepared a dish. She’s certain the deaths are murder—and that they’re somehow linked to the organ donor scandal.

To save her business and her reputation, she’s got to prove it—and unmask a dangerous killer whose next victim may just be Aunty Lee.

Goodreads: Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials

Notes:

  • I think that I had to read four or five Ovidia Yu murder mysteries before I could see a larger theme than just the mystery itself. And the penny sort of dropped between this and the next one.
  • In Agatha Christie, the murderer is a monster, but usually the monstrousness was below the surface and comes out as a murder. In the Yu books, they are monsters right from the beginning – and the murder is just a culmination of a pattern of horrible behaviour – locking up gay relatives, killing PRC immigrant labour to harvest their organs, and so on.
  • They’re like the dark mirror to Crazy Rich Asians – in CRA and sequels, the privilege and being out of touch were mined for comedy – here it’s mined for horror and to show that the very rich of Singapore move about with impunity. A bit like Pratchett’s Snuff but that was a one off and Yu seems to be going at the idea book after book. Miss Moorthy Investigates was also similar.
  • Now that I think of it, everybody in Agatha Christie was rich and / or upper class too, but everybody except the murderer (and sometimes even the murderer) was treated sympathetically. Their upper class shenanigans were treated as completely normal.

Excerpts

Aunty Lee worked on the principle of doing what she could to make others happy and letting them know how they, in turn, could make her happy. She thought people who tried to earn virtue points by being martyrs just ended up making everybody unhappy.

No comments or connections, I just liked the quote for itself.

Aunty Lee also believed Peranakan food was the best food in Singapore, possibly the best food in the world. Her definition of Peranakan food had got her into trouble with Peranakan purists, because as far as Aunty Lee was concerned, “I am Peranakan. So all food I prepare is Peranakan food!”

I used to say that as Tambrahms go, the difference between Iyers and Iyengars is that Iyengars spend their lives in misery trying to live up to the ideal Iyengar image in their head, whereas Iyers declare that they as Iyers, since they are ideal by definition, whatever they do is ideal behaviour. Aunty Lee is clearly on the Iyer track.

This is also a Ridcully way to behave, I suppose.

It was all about money after all, Aunty Lee thought. For some people it always was—money and pride, because money was the only thing they valued enough to be proud of.

Again, no connection in particular, but I liked the quote for itself. And it goes into the collection of my Theory of Moral Sentiments inspired wondering about the boundaries between pride, vanity, self-approbation, and dignity.

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