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Summary

The second novel in Ovidia Yu's delightfully charming crime series set in 1930s Singapore, featuring amateur sleuth Su Lin.

What we came to think of as the betel nut affair began in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm in December 1937....

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 chaperone 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.

©2019 Ovidia Yu (P)2019 Hachette Audio Uk

Critic reviews

"Great protagonist, great setting - this is a delightful book." (Morning Star)

"Charming and fascinating with great authentic feel. This book is exactly why I love historical novels." (Rhys Bowen)

"I really enjoyed this wonderful gem of a book. The diversity and rich history portrayed in the book are what make The Frangipani Tree Mystery a brilliant read. The fact that it's a fusion of crime and historical fiction adds brownie points to the package!" (Bookloves Reviews

What listeners say about The Betel Nut Tree Mystery

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Another lovely and educational mystery from Singapore.

The second adventure in the life of Su Lyn, her family, friends and her team in the Detective Shack whilst WWII approaches is even more enjoyable than her first. The insight into the Singaporeans beliefs and attitude towards the British rulers is absolutely fascinating and worth the cost of a credit for them alone. I’m pleased to say that in my opinion, or to my ears, Crystal Yus’ narration has improved and now adds authenticity to the story. I have the third book in reserve for some light enjoyable murder mystery entertainment over the Christmas Holidays.

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  • Rebecca
  • 07-08-20

❤️Loving this series!❤️

From the debut of this series I was delighted and completely hooked! It reminds me a little bit of The Coroner’s Lunch in that we are introduced not only to an unusual protagonist, the charming and clever Su Lin who serves as our narrator and cultural tour guide as the mystery unravels across the pages; we also come to know and love the community surrounding and supporting our protagonist.
It’s 1930’s Singapore and Su Lin is a modern young woman with dreams of being a journalist, having been the first family member to be sent to English school. However, he men in her family view it as shameful, as if they cannot afford a decent marriage for her, so her Uncle is always trying to interfere.
There’s a lot to this lovely little series. If you’re a fan of mysteries you’re almost guaranteed to enjoy this series.

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  • John S.
  • 30-04-20

A tricky review

I skipped the first book in the series, because of the poor audio sample and comments that the character of DeeDee was difficult to deal with in audio format. Here, I felt that the narrator nailed Nicole's narcissism a bit too well, cringing at her regular tantrums; otherwise, the narration was decent.

I felt the book did work okay as a stand-alone story; however, I'll probably go back and read a print copy of the first book for background on characters such as Harry, Kaiseven, etc. where Su Lin hints at things that were likely revealed earlier. She is a truly fascinating sleuth!

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  • Bibliophile1963
  • 26-09-19

Great Atmospheric Story & Improved Narration

Once again a good story, atmospheric historical setting, and engaging primary characters. Like the first in the series, however, I found the narration not quite up to par as it comes across more as reading in one continuous tone with little change in inflection or voice meaning that it is sometimes difficult to follow who is speaking when dialogue is read. This attempt, number 2 in the series, is much better than than that of number 1, however, so I’m confident that the direction and performance will continue to improve. I look forward to book 3 in the series, but hope that Ovidia Yu will also return to writing the Aunty Lee series.

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