Staff Review – Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Cozy mysteries are a nice change of pace for me when I'm looking to branch out from my usual genres. I've heard many good things about this one, and decided to give it a try. "Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers" follows Vera, 60-year-old Chinese owner of Vera Wang's World-Famous Teahouse (spelling intended, why not bank on the designer's fame?) and her diligent lifestyle. While her business isn't as "world-famous" as she'd like, she gets by just the same, until one day begins very differently. Vera wakes to find a dead body in her shop, and she decides then and there she will be the one to solve this murder (yes, she's already decided it was murder). Vera soon gets four brand new visitors to her shop: Riki, Sana, Oliver and Julia. She quickly makes these four her prime suspects, in between feeding them delicious food and fixing them up with each other - classic Chinese mother behaviour.

This story, while about a murder, has so much heart in it. Vera is, as she states, the typical Asian mother. Always worrying, always cooking and always ordering people around. While Riki, Sana, Oliver and Julia may begin as suspects, Vera quickly takes them all in as an adoptive family. The deceased man is Marshall Chen, brother of Oliver and husband of Julia. But what is the connection to Riki and Sana? Learning about everyone's connections and backstories really added to the enjoyment of the story and the excitement to see the story unfold. This book has so much heart and so many laugh-out-loud moments, you almost forget about the crime!

While being a cozy mystery, this story is also very much about found family. Vera and her suspects, plus Julia's daughter Emma, go from strangers to genuinely caring for each other rather quickly, they almost don't see it coming. Asian culture is almost a character in itself in this book, as the food and lifestyle are vibrant throughout.  This is a deliciously sweet story of family, self-love and of course, murder! The final reveal of Marshall's fate at the end of the story left me shocked! Be sure to pick up Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers today!