Cover Image: Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

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This was a quick-paced mystery that unfolds when Vera Wong an elderly tea shop owner finds a dead body in her shop. She soon decides she must solve the mystery since the police are useless. A delightful journey through her sleuthing adventures that keeps the reader guessing and ultimately unearths the family and friend relationships developed along the way. An enjoyable, witty read! Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Books for this ARC. This is my honest review.

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Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers begins immediately with a strong narrative voice. If you love sassy, meddlesome, but deeply caring main characters, Vera is for you. She has a depth of feeling in all accounts. And while her tea house was broken into, it gives her this new spark of life. She meets new people and embarks on a new adventure. With glimpses into other characters, Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is like cozy mystery meets "Love Actually".

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This was an absolutely adorable cozy mystery! I adored the characters. Vera was fantastic! She is funny and loving, and super bossy, but you can't help but love her. The plot was well thought out, and there were some surprises I didn't see coming. I absolutely recommend this one!!

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Sixty-year-old widow and mother Vera Wong doesn’t have a lot going on in her life aside from running her tea shop. And even that has grown quiet with only one regular customer a day. But that all changes one morning when Vera comes down to her shop and finds a man dead on the floor. Vera is immediately on the case, determined to solve what is surely a murder. Vera quickly identifies four suspects but things get complicated as they all become close friends.

This was a quick, entertaining read with a great balance of story and character, humor and heart. The character of Vera was especially enjoyable, narrating her take-charge, no-nonsense approach in endearingly broken English. The story is also told from the perspectives of the other main characters who Vera happens to suspect of murder. I enjoyed following the entire group as their lives intertwined through mystery, love, suspicion and Vera’s amazing cooking.

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the advance copy of this book.

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There’s nothing like a good cup of tea, or “cuppa,” as the British call it. The Brits were so keen about their tea that they colonized India to guarantee their supply; the American colonists fought a war when they taxed it. (Although, strangely enough, iced tea isn’t very common in England.) Asian countries have their own elaborate tea ceremonies. And in Jesse Q. Sutanto’s latest release, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, the tea is the star of the show. Everything else, including murder, comes in second.

For the complete review, click on the link below.

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It's rare I read a book so compelling that I finish it in just a couple of sittings, and this one I finished in two over less than a day. The mystery itself is well-thought-out with enough twists that I had to keep going to figure out how it turned out and an ending that both completely made sense and surprised me. Very satisfying. And the story of these characters who feel alone and broken coming together and finding wholeness together was beautiful. The Knives Out comp fits very well!

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Can’t tell you how much I love love love this book. I am in love with Vera and hope this is the start of many books with her at the center. I laughed and cried and had so much fun reading this book. Pure entertainment!

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I always find the idea of a cozy mystery involving murder a bit of an oxymoron. But this book is as cozy as the perfect cup of hot tea on a cold day. Full of tea, delicious food, found family and an absolutely delightful elderly lady, it’s everything a cozy mystery should be.

“People always say that your wedding day is the happiest day of your life, but honestly, people should try solving murders more often.”

With her only son grown, Vera spends her days running the family teashop in San Francisco’s Chinatown. But with only one regular customer at her teahouse, she’s aware that she’ll soon have to close the shop and equally aware of all the empty hours she’ll have to fill. Finding that a dead body in her shop is at least something new and exciting. So when the cops refuse to listen to any of her suggestions, of course Vera is forced to start her own investigation. After all, doesn’t everyone know that the murderer always comes back to the scene of the crime?

It took a while for the book to build up to speed for me. We start out with solely Vera’s POV, but then there’s a ramp up as each of the other POV characters are introduced and we slowly find out how they’re connected to Marshall, the dead man. There’s Sana, an artist; Riki, a software developer; Oliver, Marshall’s brother and twin; and Julia, his wife, and their toddler daughter, Emma. By the time Vera’s inviting them over to a suspect’s house for dinner, though? I was absolutely hooked straight to the heartwarming conclusion. And this is definitely one of those books that leaves you with all of the warm fuzzies.

“Destiny, Vera thinks, is something to be hunted down and grabbed tightly with both hands and shaken until it gives her exactly what she wants.”

Vera is of course the heart of the book. She’s tenacious, undeterred by setbacks or her own son’s (reasonable) protests over her meddling. But even while meddling Vera isn’t short on hospitality or heart. She insists on serving her suspects her own special blends of tea and introducing them to each other (as, hilariously, “other suspects”). And of course, while she’s solving the murder she might as well add a bit of matchmaking, career coach, nannying and cooking to the list as well, right?

“No one is perfect, making right decisions all the time. Only those who are so privileged can make right decision all the time. The rest of us, we have to struggle, keep afloat. Sometimes we do things we are not proud of. But now you know where your lines are.”

It’s no secret that I have a large soft spot for found families. There’s something absolutely amazing about the way Vera takes this disparate group of people brought together by a murder and turns them into something good. That’s not to say that each of these characters don’t have their own reasons for not wanting the police involved or their own actions that they regret. They’re all imperfect people trying to do what’s right and sometimes failing – and that includes Vera. But what this new family gives them is more purpose, too, to get up and try again when things get hard. Or, more simply and more profoundly, the opportunity to cook the same dishes she used to cook for her husband and young son, to share that food and how to prepare it with a new generation.

Overall, an absolutely delightful cozy mystery. While the way the book wrapped up made me think that Vera’s days of solving mysteries are done, I will definitely be looking for mysteries from this author!

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I absolutely devoured this by turns heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale of a lonely old teahouse owner who finds a new lease of life by meddling in a murder investigation. As always, Jesse Q Sutanto writes about Asian and Southeast Asian diasporas with brilliant insight, empathy and humor. This is absolutely one of my favorite books, not only of hers but of the year so far.

We begin with the daily routine of the titular Vera Wong, owner-proprietor of San Francisco’s very own (and probably trademark infringing) Vera Wang’s World-Famous Teahouse. Unfortunately, business isn’t very busy. Worse, her only child Tilly rarely finds the time to reply to her constant texts. She’s very proud that he’s a big-shot lawyer now, but as her clientele dwindles, her loneliness increases, such that all the determination she begins each day with slowly turns into a glum longing for oblivion by the time she trudges up the stairs in her shophouse to bed.

That all changes when she comes down one morning to find a dead body in her shop. She’s watched enough television to know that she shouldn’t interfere with the corpse itself, but can’t help tidying up around it so that the cops will be impressed by the prettiest crime scene they’ve hopefully ever come to. She also prepares for them several pots of mind sharpening tea, and is put out when they rebuff her generous offer. In fact, the cops are being overall very disappointing, bringing in no crime scene investigators or any of the other exciting things she’s come to expect from TV. To her chagrin, they’re all too ready to consider the death the result of a freak accident. A crime-free corpse is not a verdict she’s willing to accept:

“What about drugs?” she blurts out.

Officer Gray stares at her. “Drugs? What do you mean? Ma’am, did you touch the victim? Did you go through his belongings?”

<i>Only very carefully</i>, Vera wants to snap out, but she manages to hold herself back and say, “Of course no. I just think he look like the kind that have drugs, you know? I can tell, very bad sort.”

Officer Gray’s eyes narrow and Vera feels like a wayward child being reprimanded by an elder. Oof, she hasn’t had that feeling in a looong time, and she is not a fan.

Vera soon realizes that she’s going to have to take matters into her own hands. Reasoning that the killer will want to return to the scene of the crime – perhaps in order to recover the item that she may have, oops, forgotten to mention taking to the cops – she devises a plan to lure the murderer back to her teashop. When they arrive, she’ll be more than ready for them.

What Vera doesn’t count on is the appearance of not one but four viable suspects. First is Riki, who claims to be a reporter (he’s not.) Then is Sana, who claims to be a podcaster (she’s not.) By the time Vera has added the dead man’s distraught widow and estranged brother to her suspect list, she’s gleefully considering how she’ll figure out whodunnit, to the overwhelming acclaim of both the cops and her Chinatown neighbors, if not the world.

Trouble is, Vera finds herself growing more and more fond of her four suspects as she brazenly interferes with their lives, often changing them for the better. But someone is definitely a murderer, no matter what the police might say. Will Vera be able to find justice for the dead man, even if it means breaking her own heart in the process?

This cozy mystery is absolutely astonishing in managing to be simultaneously humorous, deeply intelligent, and a precisely delivered target strike to my many already complicated feelings regarding being both Asian and Asian American in the 21st century. Ms Sutanto has done excellent work in her previous books, mysteries or otherwise, but this novel may be her best yet. Vera is both deeply irritating and highly lovable, reminding me of my own relatives and reinforcing the importance of compassion in keeping relationships alive and healthy. The rest of Ms Sutanto’s main characters are equally imperfect but also charming, with often astute observations of their own on the many different kinds of immigrant experience, as told in each character’s viewpoint chapters:

Sana eyes the towering piles of old newspapers and magazines, the cobwebbed sewing machine, an old typewriter missing half its keys, and boxes probably filled with similar unusable items. It’s a familiar sight to her. Her parents’ house is pristine because her mother is ruthless about keeping her house immaculate for the many interviews and videos she shoots for her fans, but as a kid, whenever Sana visited her friends’ homes, especially the first-generation kids, she’d often find houses filled with crumbling boxes of stuff. Mementoes from their parents’ homeland, too old to use, too precious to throw away, too painful to look at. So they are left to age gently, a reminder of everyone who was left behind.

I spent most of a Saturday devouring this book instead of doing anything else, and felt like I’d definitely chosen the best use of my time. I laughed and cried and felt very, very seen. I adored this tremendously large-hearted and cleverly crafted novel and hope you will, too.

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✨ Review ✨ Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto

I mean...I was already a Jesse Q. Sutanto fan for life, but this book solidified it. This cozy mystery will leave you giggling feeling wrapped in a warm hug.

The book start's in Vera Wong's tea shop where a man is murdered, and the book takes us down a long very windy path of Vera's investigating. More than the mystery itself, the book's about relationship buildings and Vera's feisty way of bringing people together. The book's filled with food and laughs, mystery and then still more food!

I loved how the book brought us into this cast of characters and perspectives, where they're all united by their connection to Marshall, the dead man, but quickly their connections grow to Vera Wong, the perfect meddling Chinese grandma.

I loved this book, but dangggg if it doesn't leave you starving!

Genre: cozy mystery, found family
Location: San Francisco
Pub Date: out now

Read this if you like:
⭕️ found family bonds
⭕️ vivid descriptions of Chinese food
⭕️ humor mixed into your mysteries
⭕️ meddling old ladies

Thanks to Berkley and #netgalley for an advanced e-copy of this book!

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It's no secret I love Jesse and her Aunties series, and Vera is just as good! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC. I also love a good who dunnit and this book delivers, I honestly did not figure out who did it haha. This is a great cozy/feel good mystery, parts of it with Vera and Emma were like a warm hug. Also many laugh-out-loud moments, I hope we see more of Vera!

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Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murder by Jesse Q. Sutanto is absolutely delightful! Vera Wong found a dead body in her tea shop one morning. As she tries to solve the murder she meets and helps many people and we find out that things aren't always as they seem.

I absolutely love Vera Wong as a character, and wanted her to be my best friend by the end of the novel! She was funny, caring, and always looking for adventure. She is a little meddling, but honestly who isn’t? This character driven story is told from multiple POV, but I was easily able to keep everyone straight. This was a well set up mystery and you are not really sure who is responsible till the end. The author has interwoven the characters' lives and weaves the connections seamlessly. The story shares Asian culture in a way that is interesting and humorous, and she thanks her parents at the end of the story for giving her so much material.

I was so invested in this story. Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murder reminded me of the importance of family, friendship, and looking beyond the façade most of us put up. I enjoyed laughing and reflecting as I read the book. I highly recommend Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders by Jesse Q. Sutanto.

I was given the book by publisher and not required to write a positive review.

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Review will be posted on 3/29/23

Vera Wong owns a tea shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. Her son is grown and has a life of his own, so the tea shop is her world. Until one day, a man ends up dead in her shop. She finds him when she is opening the store and swipes his strange flash drive. After meeting with the police, she realizes that they don't seem to care about this dead man who was, according to Vera, clearly murdered. So, she takes it upon herself to figure out what happened and according to Vera there is nobody who can do it better than a Chinese mother. Jesse Q. Sutanto's Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is a delightful novel that is equal parts comedy and cozy mystery.

Vera is a character I absolutely loved from the start of Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. She is quirky, boundary breaking, inappropriate at times, and has the best intentions. I absolutely loved this about her and thought she was so entertaining. Her lists she created to hunt down the killer were hilarious. Specifically the first half of the novel was so much fun, because Vera is so lovable despite her ability to make questionable decisions.

The "found family" in Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers was another heartwarming aspect of the novel. They really come together, thanks to Vera, to figure out why a man named Marshall Chen ended up dead in Vera's shop. There's Marshall's twin brother, his widow, a reporter, and a podcast host. Each character is hiding their own secrets or complicated backstory and it was fun to get to know each one of them and their connection to Marshall. Sutanto jumps from character to character's point of view and it definitely had me guessing what happened to Marshall.

I read both the book and listened to the audio version and I have to say I preferred the audio. It was outstanding and the narrator really brought to life Vera. Also, the descriptions of Chinatown, the tea in Vera's shop, and the food were fantastic. It made me feel like I was in Chinatown with them.

While the murder mystery aspect of Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers wasn't entirely believable and a tad melodramatic at times, I still enjoyed Vera's story and uncovering the truth surrounding the murder. The big reveal wasn't entirely what I was expecting and a bit over-the-top, but this is to be expected in a cozy mystery. So, if you enjoy a cozy mystery with some laugh out loud hijinks, look no further!

Are you a fan of Jesse Q. Sutanto? I hope to read Dial A for Aunties next. Let me know in the comments below if you have read Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers or if it's on your TBR list.

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Vera Wong is a quirky, humorous lady who is comfortable in her own skin and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She enjoys micromanaging her son’s life and sticking her nose where some say it shouldn’t belong, but I for one am glad that she does, as it brought us this delightful book! To be honest, I think the mystery took a bit of a backseat to the other aspects of this novel, especially since I had a hard time buying that the murderer would do what they did and why, but what a delight watching Vera bring together this list of suspects and somehow connect them all in a way that they never would have imagined. If you’re looking for a cozy mystery full of heart and chuckles, this one is it!

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Vera Wong is the owner and proprietress of Vera Wang’s World Famous Tea House, located in San Francisco’s Chinatown. She’s up every morning at 4:30 and can’t understand why everyone isn’t like this. She’s a widow, with a somewhat strained relationship with her only son, who doesn’t seem to appreciate his early-morning wakeup calls as much as you would think. Her tea house has just one customer per day, an elderly man who stays 10 minutes only. Vera is disillusioned but keeps herself going by fanning a feud with the neighboring business, a so-called “French patisserie” that is actually Chinese, if you can imagine. Until one day when Vera goes downstairs to start her day and discovers a dead body in her tea room.

Like most of us, Vera has watched cop shows on TV so she knows what to do and what to expect, and she is very disappointed when the police don’t behave as she thinks they should. She soon realizes she’s going to have to do everything herself. She also knows that murderers return to the scene of the crime, and so when 4 young people show up the next day, she determines they are all suspects and sets out to break down their defenses by befriending them. There’s Riki, a young Indonesian man trying to get his young brother to the US; Sana, an Indian artist who is used to overbearing motherly types; Julia, the caucasian wife of the dead man, and Oliver, his twin brother. They all form an unlikely group around Vera, who runs the show and insists on over-feeding them, mothering the dead man’s toddler and widow as well, and just in general getting everyone into line.

It can be very hard to write a certain type of elderly woman–determined, quirky, overpowering, funny–and do it well. Author Jesse Sutanto has succeeded. Vera is a force of nature who manages not to be sentimental or two-dimensional, and there were several times when she made me literally laugh out loud. The only flaw is that she seemed a little too sensitive to modern sensibilities of emotional pain and trauma, but that didn’t spoil the book for me. Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is definitely a feel-good novel, but it’s well done and super enjoyable. Highly recommended.

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I absolute loved Vera and her story. When a dead body is found in Vera’s rundown tea house, Vera decides she is going to investigate and solve the murders. With humor and a cast of unusual characters, including Sana, the artist, Riki, the coder, Julia, the widowed mom, and Oliver, the dead man’s twin brother, the story is totally engaging. Vera is a pushy old Asian woman who cooks through problems, and with her forceful personality, becomes a favorite character. I highly recommend this most entertaining read. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Vera Wong runs a down on its luck tea shop, and her life is extremely regimented and void of people. Until one day she finds a dead man on the floor of her shop.

Vera immediately throws herself into the investigation, even drawing a sharpie outline of the body to help the police out. Desperately wanting to solve the crime, Vera finds herself growing closer to each of the suspects, forming a found family that may just break when the murderer is discovered.

I loved this book. I’ve recently been reading more of Sutanto’s books, and I love her work. Vera Wong has so much going on-found family, romance, humor, mystery, and a surprise twist ending. I highly recommend this book.

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Sixty-year old, Vera Wong, is a widow, mother and owner of a small, rarely visited, tea shop in San Francisco.
Vera, adheres to a strict schedule, and can be opinionated when it comes to other's lives and scheduling, particularly her son, Tilly. For example, if you aren't up by 4-4:30 a.m., you're basically wasting the day away.

As our story begins, you get to meet Vera and learn all about her little peccadilloes from her perspective. I loved her from the very start. She's perfect. Vera's ordered world is suddenly turned upside down when one morning she discovers the body of a deceased man inside her tea shop!

Suspecting she will do a better job than the police, Vera decides to take the investigation into her own hands. The police don't seem to suspect foul play, but Vera knows, something funny is going on here. Through a random series of events, Vera comes up with four likely suspects: Julia, the dead man's wife, Rikki, Sana and Oliver, the dead man's twin brother. She then inserts herself into the suspect's lives, because how else is she going to determine which one is guilty?!

Thus, her super-stealthy, and by that I mean over-the-top, often hilarious, slightly-meddling, yet well-intentioned, investigation begins.

I really, really enjoyed this story. The cast of characters, led by Vera, was truly the highlight for me. They were all relatable people, who ended up bonding with Vera in their own ways and for their own distinct reasons.

Vera was definitely a force to be reckoned with. She has such a big heart, is quirky as heck, sweetly innocent in many ways, but also willing to bulldoze anyone in pursuit of her goals. When Vera tells you to jump, you ask how high. I loved learning about the characters and watching their relationships develop. It was like they all needed support and ended up, through these unfortunate circumstances, finding exactly what they needed.

The overall story was cute, cozy and heart-warming. At times, I did wish for a slightly more intriguing Mystery to help propel the plot, but the found family elements were so strong, it more than made up for that, in my opinion. I always feel like I connect well with Sutanto's humor and characters. I just really enjoy her writing style. It's become such a comfort for me and she is an auto-buy author because of that.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As expected, this was super fun and cute! I cannot wait to pick up more from this author in the future.

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Vera Wong is a tea expert, she knows what the right tea is for any ailment or occasion. She also considers herself an expert crime solver. A murder has occurred in her tea shop and Vera has decided to help the police find the killer. She is sure that she can do a much better job. Along the way Vera checks up on her son, the neighbor and inserts herself into the lives of the suspects.

This was such a fun story. I found myself laughing and smiling. . Vera seemed so intrusive at first but by the end of the story I wished that I knew someone like her. She is feisty, strong willed and kind. This is the perfect read for a reader looking for a mystery, some humor and a lot of heart.

4 ⭐️

Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This was really just a whole lot of fun! I liked Vera from the start (but I must admit that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have her as a mother!). The story was funny and I didn’t want to stop reading once I started. It’s been a long time since a book made me laugh out loud, so I am happy to report that I did just that while reading this book. This was an excellent introduction to Jesse Q. Sutanto’s writing.

Vera lives alone in an apartment above her tea shop. She calls her adult son frequently and opens her tea shop on time daily knowing that she won’t get many customers. She lives a routine life until she finds a dead body in the tea shop. Since she knows that the police won’t solve the murder, she takes matters into her own hands. She soon befriends those tied to the victim and they start to grow close, even as she investigates them for the murder. I really loved all of the characters and adored the found family they created together. The mystery itself was able to keep me guessing until the very end.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that Eunice Wong really took the story to the next level. She did such a great job of bringing Vera to life. I think that she did a great job with all of the character voices and she was able to bring the humor out with her narration. I am certain that her narration added to my overall enjoyment of this story.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. This story had the perfect combination of great characters, humor, heartfelt moments, and an engaging mystery. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work very soon.

I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group and Penguin Random House Audio.

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