by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
After reading and absolutely loving Dial A for Aunties and Four Aunties and a Wedding, I was eager to read more by Jesse Q. Sutanto. I was thrilled when my library hold came in for Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), but I also had some trepidation as it seemed unlikely that it could hold up to the expectations I had based on the other series.
However, I shouldn't have worried at all! This murder mystery novel is full of quirky, complicated, lovable characters, all of whom do some rash things in the face of hard circumstances.
At the center of the story is Vera Wong, a sixty-year-old widow whose tea shop is failing and whose grown son barely tolerates her. Early on in the novel, Vera wakes at her usual 4:30 AM wake up time and comes downstairs to the tea shop from her upstairs apartment to discover a man dead on the floor. It appeared that he had broken into the tea shop and then died promptly after entry. Vera immediately takes it upon herself to apply everything she has learned from watching various crime shows and attempts to "help" the police with the situation.
“She's very proud of her crime scene; it must surely be the most pleasant crime scene the cops have ever been to.”
Though the police quickly dismiss the unusual circumstances as an accidental death, Vera feels sure that she knows better and that there has been foul play. When people start appearing at the tea shop in the days that follow, Vera reminds herself of the adage that the killer always returns to the scene of the crime, and she begins her amateur sleuthing.
I absolutely loved so many aspects of this novel, including the way that the bizarre situation brings together a lot of people who would otherwise not have known each other. There is a lovely relationship between Vera and Emma, a toddler who is tied up in the events, that I absolutely adored. There is also a beautiful depiction of tea. This one is funny, tender, and full of twists and turns, and I was here for every minute! I'll leave you with a quote from Vera that shows you a bit more about her personality:
“People always say that your wedding day is the happiest day of your life, but honestly, people should try solving murders more often.”
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