The Betel Nut Tree Mystery [Ovidia Yu]

Start Date: 6 February 2022

Finish Date: 7 February 2022

Source: Amazon India Kindle Store

Goodreads Summary:

What we came to think of as the betel nut affair began in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm in December 1936 . . .

Singapore is agog with the news of King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry American heiress Wallis Simpson. Chen Su Lin, now Chief Inspector Le Froy’s secretarial assistant in Singapore’s newly formed detective unit, still dreams of becoming a journalist and hopes to cover the story when the Hon Victor Glossop announces he is marrying an American widow of his own, Mrs Nicole Covington, in the Colony. But things go horribly wrong when Victor Glossop is found dead, his body covered in bizarre symbols and soaked in betel nut juice.

The beautiful, highly-strung Nicole claims it’s her fault he’s dead . . . just like the others. And when investigations into her past reveal a dead lover, as well as a husband, the case against her appears to be stacking up. Begrudgingly on Le Froy’s part, Su Lin agrees to chaperon Nicole at the Farquhar Hotel, intending to get the truth out of her somehow. But as she uncovers secrets and further deaths occur, Su Lin realises she may not be able to save Nicole’s life – or even her own.

Goodreads: The Betel Nut Tree Mystery


  • While I caught glimmers of this tendency in Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials and blogged about it in that post, The Betel Nut Tree Mystery carries on with Ovidia Yu showing everybody, especially the murderer, to be horrible in many ways apart from murder. Here, the murderer is also a molester (clearly seen) and a poisoner / gaslighter (seen at the denouement).
  • I had forgotten quite a bit about Su Lin and Parshanti, including that Parshanti was mixed race. But after all the drama she went through,I’m happy Parshanti’s romance worked out in the end.
  • It was a little weird running up against prewar Nazi sympathising side characters two books in a row, by different authors.
  • I had also forgotten all about the gay character from the last book who becomes a pilot. Heck, I’ve forgotten his name again while writing this.
  • It wasn’t much of a murder mystery. But it had me hooked as historical fiction.
  • I’m also wondering if there’s some bigger reveal to come about Le Froy and his past.


Parshanti had come to visit me at the station. This suited me since it was another slow morning. Even criminals have a break during the monsoon season.

This made me remember the bit about piracy being a seasonal occupation for fishermen in the Zheng Yi Sao episode.

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