Formats available: paperback, ebook, large print
Series: Singaporean Mystery #3
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on April 5th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
Rosie “Aunty” Lee—feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant—is back in another delectable, witty mystery set in Singapore.
Slightly hobbled by a twisted ankle, crime-solving restaurateur Aunty Lee begrudgingly agrees to take a rest from running her famous café, Aunty Lee’s Delights, and turns over operations to her friend and new business partner Cherril.
The café serves as a meeting place for an animal rescue society that Cherril once supported. They were forced to dissolve three years earlier after a British expat killed the puppy she’d adopted, sparking a firestorm of scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace, but has returned with an ax to grind (and a lawsuit). At the café one afternoon, Cherril receives word that Allison has been found dead in her hotel—and foul play is suspected. When a veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal, is found dead, suspicion soon falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder—and in a tightly knit, law-and-order society like Singapore, everyone is on edge.
Before anyone else gets hurt—and to save her business—Aunty Lee must get to the bottom of what really happened three years earlier, and figure out who is to be trusted in this tangled web of scandal and lies.
I was introduced to the Aunty Lee series by this book. When I decided to be part of this tour, I figured that book 3 of a series wasn’t so far in that I couldn’t manage to catch up, so I was able to sink my teeth into the first two books in this delicious series, Aunty Lee’s Delights and Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials, and I’m glad I did.
Not that a newbie to the series couldn’t start with Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge. The author does a good job of catching readers up with the setting and cast of characters. But it does add a bit to the fun to see how everyone has changed from the beginning. Also how the writing has evolved. While I enjoyed both of the first two books, this is definitely the best one yet.
Aunty Lee is everyone’s favorite grandmother, although the reality is that she isn’t anyone’s actual grandmother. She was the late MK Lee’s second wife, and he already had two children. Aunty Lee never had any of her own, and her stepchildren have, so far, not managed to give her any grandchildren to spoil.
So Aunty Lee pretty effectively spoils the entire neighborhood, especially through her award-winning home-cooking restaurant, Aunty Lee’s Delights. Rosie Lee doesn’t need the money, but she needs the work to keep her occupied. And to help her get involved with solving murders.
With a sprained ankle keeping her on the sidelines, Aunty Lee is feeling depressed and slightly useless, until a murder walks into her restaurant.
Not exactly literally. Three old friends, including Aunty Lee’s business partner, are waiting at the restaurant to meet with the woman who is threatening to sue them. But she never arrives. Instead, the police come to say that the woman has been murdered, and the dead woman’s sister shows up a few minutes later, ranting and raving. As she generally does.
While Aunty Lee may be sorry that a woman is dead, and particularly sorry that her business partner is temporarily a suspect, she is energized by the thought of a murder she can help solve being delivered right to her doorstep.
She’s so happy, in fact, that she takes the dead woman’s sister home with her, hoping that in comfort and privacy the woman will reveal some of the secrets she is so obviously keeping. Meanwhile, Aunty Lee dives into the three-year-old incident that brought all the principals to her little cafe.
Back then, her partner Cherril was part of an animal rescue society, along with her friends Brian Wong and Jacqueline DelaVega. The woman who was planning to sue them, a British ex-pat, adopted a puppy from their rescue society. A few days later, when she decided that she didn’t want the poor puppy any longer, she had him euthanized instead of returning him to the shelter, as she had contracted to do. When Allison Fitzgerald went into repeated tirades at the police, the animal rescue society, and anyone else within earshot, she became the quarry of a horde of internet bullies. Not just because she killed a poor, defenseless little puppy, but also because she lied about it, violated a contract, and showed zero remorse. Allison and her family were hounded out of Singapore.
Now she’s back. And she’s dead. And her sister is accusing the animal shelter people she lied to three years ago. And the dead woman’s ex-husband. And anyone else she can think of.
It’s up to Aunty Lee to sort out the truth from layers and layers of lies and deceptions. Building a case is like putting together a new recipe – all the pieces have to fit just right. Aunty Lee is perfectly willing to tinker with all the flavors until they finally — do.
Escape Rating A-: Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge is the best book in the series so far. The recipe for the series has come together in a way that makes this dish especially flavorful. Or especially interesting, since we are, after all, talking about murder.
The title is a play on the old saying, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” The case that Aunty Lee has to solve revolves around figuring out exactly who is getting revenge on whom, because at the outset there are plenty of options. And this was a case where, although I had figured out one part of the mystery, I was as lost as everyone else on who done it and why. But I couldn’t wait to find out.
Allison Fitzgerald, now calling herself Allison Love, sues the animal shelter principals, Cherril, Brian and Jacqueline, because she believes that the internet bullying they encouraged led to her divorce and estrangement from her children. She wants payback.
Allison’s sister Vallerie came to Singapore with Allison. Now that Allison is dead, Vallerie wants revenge on whoever killed her. And she’s certain that the murderers must be those same people. With the possible addition of Allison’s ex-husband.
Cherril, Brian and Jacqueline left the old case behind them long ago. Or did they? Cherril certainly has, she is now happily married and equally happily involved with Aunty Lee’s restaurant. But Brian and Jacqueline, not so much. Even after all these years, Brian is still in love with Jacqueline, and Jacqueline is still in love with…getting herself out of Singapore. She’s decided that Allison’s ex-husband is her ticket to a posh life somewhere far away.
It’s up to Aunty Lee to wade through the mess. She finds her way to a solution by learning about the people, mostly through what they eat, and especially through what they say while they are eating. And by being very, very nosy.
It works. And it works deliciously.