Member Reviews

I have loved Jesse Q. Sutanto's writing since I read Dial A for Aunties, and this book captured the laugh out loud humor and fast pace that I have come to expect from her as an author.

Vera Wong is the owner of a world famous tea shop. Well, not world famous, but she's named it that anyway. When one day she enters the store to find a man dead on the floor, she sees only one solution- she must solve this obvious murder herself, because the police are clearly not up for the task. Embracing her role as a novice sleuth, she assembles a list of suspects made up of the man's newly separated wife, his twin brother, a man posing as a reporter, and a woman who claims to run a true crime podcast. Vera wants to solve the crime, but she didn't anticipate the bond that she would form with the very people she believes could be murderers.

This book was so. dang. chaotic. And I loved every moment of it. Vera was an absolute icon, from how stubbornly she just blows past every conceivable boundary to her blunt nature, and I completely adored her. I had so much fun reading her POV because she is, quite simply, unstoppable. She is a born meddler, and the other characters can do nothing but give in to her persistence.

I did not expect there to be so many different perspectives in this book, but I was living for each one that was introduced. Julia, Sana, Riki, and Oliver all have something to hide, and I could not put the book down until all the secrets are out in the open. A special shout out must be given to little Emma. I hated to see how Marshall treated her and Julia, but it made it even more heartwarming to see how she gets brought out of her shell by Vera and the rest of the gang.

Speaking of our gang, the thing that stood out to me the most was the found family dynamic. It was the last thing I expected from a book like this but I was so in love with how quickly the characters formed friendships with each other. They were all brought together coincidentally, but their presence in each others lives improved them all for the better in such heartwarming and wholesome ways. Never did I expect a book in which you are trying to deduce the murderer from a group of suspects as "wholesome" but here we are.

If you're looking for a fast-paced cozy mystery with characters that are to-die for, and a mystery that will keep you hooked until the end, then you should absolutely check out this book.

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Vera Wong is a sexagenarian - not a little old lady in my view - whose once busy tea shop has only one customer. A customer with an ailing wife and who can only visit for scant moments. One day, when Vera heads downstairs to the tea shop, she makes a shocking discovery. There is a dead man lying on the floor of her shop.

Vera is no wilting flower. In fact, even before she calls the police, she takes specific measures because she immediately has decided in her mind to figure out who the man is and why he was killed in her shop. Not only do the police soon arrive, but no less than four different individuals who have never once visited her shop show up soon thereafter.

Her logic tells her that one of the four of these strangers must be the killer. With tasty food and good company, Vera gets to know these four individuals, and these include the victim’s wife and his twin brother Oliver. For the first time in her lonely life, Vera dons the hat of an amateur sleuth. As far as she is concerned, the police aren’t doing enough and considering the body was found in her shop, she is doing exactly what she should be doing.

What a charming story. Vera was easy to love, as were her four new “friends”. I felt like I was arm in arm with Vera as she sought answers. With the chapters alternating in POVs, this was definitely an engaging and easy read. One thing is for certain: I am about to go make a cup of tea.

Many thanks to Berkley Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

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★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
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WHAT'S VERA WONG'S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR MURDERERS ABOUT?
I'm not sure that I can answer this question without just recapping the entire novel—but without the charm and warmth.

JUST TRY...
How much time do you have?

IT PUBLISHES TODAY, YOU NEED TO GET SOMETHING POSTED. JUST GIVE US THE SETUP
Okay, okay, I'll attempt it—but I really want to spend the next hour just regurgitating the whole thing.

Vera Wong is an older Chinese woman, the owner of a small tea shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. It's dark, dingy, and doesn't get much in the way of customers. She has one regular that she can count on to stop in early in the morning, and then spends most of the rest of the day waiting for someone else to walk in and order. Typically in vain. But it's her life—she has nothing else to do with her time—her husband is dead, and her son is busy with work. So busy that he rarely has time to visit—or acknowledge all of the super-helpful advice she gives him to succeed at work and/or to find a wife. This doesn't stop her from texting or calling him frequently to offer the advice, it should be noted.

Then one day, she comes down the stairs from her apartment above the shop to discover a dead body in the middle of the floor. She has little faith that the police will be able to tell her who killed the man, so she decides to discover the identity of the killer for them. How hard can it be? She's watched plenty of procedurals, is smart, and (unlike Sherlock Holmes) is a suspicious Chinese mother. The murderer doesn't stand a chance.

So she helps herself to a little bit of the evidence before the police arrive so that she can hunt for the murderer. It'll be a good change of pace for her.

She sets a trap for the murderer and ends up with four good suspects, it'll just take her some time to figure out who killed him and why. In the meantime, she sees at least three younger people that need some guidance to get their lives in order—she decides to take that on along with her murder investigation.

VERA
I'd like to spend a few pages talking about Vera—I'm certain that if you ask me in December, she's still going to be one of my favorite characters of 2023.

She is so human—such a mass of contradictions and differing impulses. The fact that at her, um, advanced age she's able to chart a new course for her life, to let people in, and adapt gives me a little hope.

But it's her spirit, her way of looking at the world, and not backing down that's really inspiring.

Once she's done with these characters, I could use a grandmother like this.

BE CAREFUL
Vera knows her tea, she spends a lot of time and energy on it—certain that she can make someone just the right kind of tea for whatever they're facing to help them through the day. If you can make it through a chapter or two (especially in the early chapters) without needing a cup of your own, I'd like to know how.

But other than needing to take the time to boil water and steep your tea, that's not a big deal (unless you're inspired to go shopping for more teas, which can get expensive—and can distract you from your reading). However, Vera also spends a lot of time cooking for her new friends and suspects. And she ends up spending more time cooking than making tea.

This is where you need to be careful—if you're not, you could find yourself putting on a few pounds before the killer is identified. Sutanto's descriptions of Vera's creations—and the way everyone responds to them—are so vivid, so enticing, they can send you to your pantry for a snack—or to your food delivery app of choice to order some Chinese food.

I'm not saying that you should avoid these portions of the book—just be prepared so you can fight temptation (or have a handy justification to indulge yourself, if that's more your preference).

SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT VERA WONG'S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR MURDERERS?
By the time I got halfway through the opening paragraph, I'd started coming up with a list of people to recommend this book to. There was something about the voice that just jumped off of the page (er, screen) and said, "You're going to have fun with this." And I absolutely did—but there was more to it than that, being around these characters felt comfortable. I just wanted to spend time in their presence—like Stars Hollow, CT; the locker room of AFC Richmond; the Parks and Rec Department of Pawnee, IN; the Jigsaw Room of Cooper's Chase retirement village; or Knight's Bookstore in Abbi Waxman's L.A. I don't remember the last time that I read a cozy mystery that was so worthy of the title "Cozy."

Yes, I wanted to figure it out. Yes, I wanted to know what happened to the characters and wanted closure for this period in their lives. But I read as slowly as I could because I wanted to linger.

It's not just Vera that creates that feeling—it's the other characters' reactions to her, as well as their relationships with each other. Yes, she is undeniably the center of this little world, but it wouldn't work without the others.

There's a lot of gentle humor and heart—that's what fills this charming work. But that's not all of it—there are laugh-out-loud moments, as well, and real emotions. There's a budding romance, a rekindled friendship, family ties, and a lot of people finding the confidence to step out into something new—or into something they've tried before and have been scared to try again. The found family that's created along the way makes all of that possible—particularly the last part—the mutual support (in various forms) and encouragement from the others enable the others to make those steps.

I don't want to give the impression that this book is all sunshine, flowers, and good times. There are portions of this that are hard to get through, sure—there's a suspicious death, criminal behavior—at the very least the actions of a scoundrel—heartbreak and a great deal of loneliness and despair. But Sutanto doesn't leave us there for long—she grounds the book in it, but provides a way forward—through grit, determination, and the help of others.

The murder investigation was fine—probably more than fine, actually. It was a clever little story, with plenty of good suspects and nice twists. But the book isn't all that interested in the murder investigation, really. It's just an excuse for these people to come together and start interacting. Vera herself doesn't really want any of her suspects to be guilty—she's too busy meddling in their lives to improve them (in selfless acts of assistance only, she'd hurry to tell you). But she keeps plugging away at her little list of suspects because it's something she's started—and wouldn't it be exciting to actually find a murderer? (even if it's someone she doesn't want to get into any kind of trouble).

I talk about mysteries more than anything else here, and the fact that I'd started wrapping up the post without addressing the mystery part of this book says a lot to me. It's the driving force behind the plot and the instigating incident—but again—it's secondary to the rest of the storylines. Still, most readers will have a hard time finding sympathy for the murdered man, and more than once you'll likely wonder if it'd really be that bad if no one figures out who did it. You probably won't feel the way you usually do when a murder is solved when the culprit is named, either.

There's just so much to commend about this book—and so little to quibble with—I'm on the verge of repeating myself and/or overhyping this thing (but boy howdy, does it deserve a lot of hype!). So I'm just going to leave it with this—go get your hands on a copy, brew yourself a nice pot of tea (I promise you're going to want tea), and lose yourself in this book for a few hours.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this.

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An absolute slay by Jesse Q. Sutanto! If you love the hijinks of the Aunties series Jesse published, then VERA WONG is your girl! She's got the humor, the doting grandmother vibe, and when she discovers a dead body in her tea shop, she turns into a private investigator, with the help of some "suspicious" friends that walk through her doors, all with different backstories & relationships to the dead man in the shop, Marshall Chen.
There was a lot that I loved about the book that hit all the right notes with me: set in San Francisco, Chinese doting grandmother MC, the humor that takes me back to my own life, but what I always love most about these novels is that Sutanto generates a sense of family with her characters, that just makes these mysteries feel a sense of cozy that I love. A stellar read this year!

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Funny, heartwarming, and entertaining, Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers wrapped me up and warmed my insides like one of Vera's delicious cups of tea. It was a fun read filled with mystery and wonderful moments.

Vera is queen of her own kingdom. She lives above her tea shop where she carefully considers the right tea for the right person and situation. She's a widower who spends a lot of her time alone. Her son is pretty absent, but despite this, she texts him regularly and asserts her loving brand of worry upon him and his life choices. One morning she enters her shop and discovers a dead body. After being disillusioned with the police's handling of their investigation, Vera decides to do a bit of sleuthing of her own. She gathers a group of suspects who just happen to insert themselves into her life. Each one of them is unique and has their own questionable involvement in the death. Jumping between five points of view, readers get insight into each of the characters, their motivations and the victim. Overall, while this is definitely a who done it, there are themes of friendship, family, and grief sprinkled with plenty of wit and heartwarming moments. It's a cozy mystery but so much more.

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“‘Um, I’m . . . I have a podcast,’ she says finally. Vera’s eyebrows wrinkle together. ‘Oh dear. I’m sure I have some cream for that.’”

Vera Wong is a widowed Chinese woman who owns a dilapidated tea shop that she has the utmost of pride in. And she is one of my favorite characters in recent memory!

What a hoot she is. When a man is found dead in her tea shop, Vera Wang’s World-Famous Teahouse, she takes it upon herself to solve the crime after the cops prove to her that have 𝓃𝑜 idea what they are doing.

This book has the most wonderful cast of quirky characters and I was fully engrossed in the murder mystery of it as well. It is a laugh out loud funny story of love, redemption, and what makes a family. Vera is just the best and I want her to be my grandma! My heart is fuller for having read this.

“I notice that this girl @NotChloeBennet has liked TWO of your videos on the TikTok! I think this means she likes you. I look at her profile and she pout a lot…Perhaps you should slip and slide into her DM. Kind regards, Mama.” Oh Vera 😂.

Thank you to Netgalley, Berkley Publishing, and the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Vera Wong is a 60-year-old widow who still opens her teahouse every day. Vera Wang’s World-Famous Teahouse is a staple of San Francisco’s Chinatown (she named it after the designer, to try to draw more customers in). Only, the world-famous teahouse is almost always empty. Vera has one loyal customer, Alex, whose wife has Alzheimer’s. She feels good about giving him a warming cup of tea every day, but she is sad by all the young people who are going to the new place, The Café, and buying coffee. They would all be better off coming to her and letting her make them a cup of tea. She will know just what they need.

And then came the morning she came downstairs and found the dead body in her shop. She knew immediately that he had been murdered, and she was ready for the police when they came to investigate. She had drawn the outline around him already so they don’t have to, and she made tea for the whole investigative team, to help them think clearly to find the killer. Because she knows that the man was murdered.

When the police show up, they are ungrateful for the work that Vera had done and refused to drink her tea. They didn’t dust for fingerprints or take any DNA. Clearly, she will have to investigate herself.

Vera watches the shop, thinking that the killer will come back to the scene of the crime. That’s how she meets Riki, who says he’s a reporter for Buzzfeed. She meets Sana, who says she has a true crime podcast. She meets a man who looks exactly like the dead man, who turns out to be his twin brother Oliver. And the woman with the toddler who looks into the teahouse and runs away is clearly the dead man’s wife and daughter.

Vera takes it upon herself to get to know these people, bringing them together in ways that none of them expect. She makes them teas that warm and comfort them. She makes them food that evokes memories of childhood. And when their defenses are down, Vera asks them if they killed the dead man. And while they all insist that they didn’t kill the man, they all also agree that Vera is a force of nature. She has brought them all together, creating a community of people who need each other, and as it turns out, who all need Vera too.

But when it turns out that Vera has been keeping secrets from them—and from the police—along with all of her suspects, will she destroy the trust that her new friends have in her? Or will she really be able to find the killer, putting herself in danger that not even her lawyer son can protect her from?

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is the latest novel from Jesse Q. Sutanto, who burst onto the publishing scene several years ago, writing young adult thrillers and comedic mysteries at a rate that would make Vera proud. This novel is part murder mystery, part family drama, and part study of how to be a traditional Chinese mother.

Like Vera herself, this book is a force to be reckoned with. There is a clear story line to the murder, but this novel is so much more than just a mystery. It’s filled with personality and soul and comfort, like the complex teas that Vera can pull together in mere minutes, and it has the ability to heal your soul. Watching this woman work her way into the lives and hearts of her “suspects” is sweet and hilarious in equal portions, and seeing them all come back to life under her care is inspiring. I adored this novel, and I think Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers will be a balm for anyone needing the warmth of an excellent cup of tea, a grandmother’s hug, and the encouragement to go after your dreams.

Egalleys for Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers were provided by Berkley through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto was such a joy to read. It’s a cozy murder-mystery that will warm your heart and make you laugh aloud. Vera Wong owns a tea shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown and when a man ends up dead in her shop, she investigates. The tale that unfolds was, in a word, wonderful.

I am still grinning about this story. It’s an elevated cozy mystery that deals with family, friendship and the most ornery, loveable old women. I want to visit Vera Wang’s Famous Tea Shop and have Vera Wong fix me the perfect tea. If I am lucky, maybe she will feed me.

The tale begins by introducing us to Vera Wong, who lives alone above her teashop. We learn about her son, her day and, of course, her shop. I loved Vera from the start and chuckled at her antics. Her talk about young people had my sides hurting, and I easily related to her situation.

Vera is lonely and when she awakens to find a dead body in her shop, she calls the police. From the crime scene to her interactions with the police, I was hooked. Lord, she was hilarious. I want to have as much confidence as she does when I grow up.

When the police rule the death accidentally, Vera investigates. She placing an ad in the paper to catch the killer, keeps a journal and oh yeah, she might have withheld some evidence from the police.

Sutanto then introduces us to, as Vera would like to say, “the suspects.” First there is the widow, next is a young man claiming to be a reporter and a young woman who does a true crime podcast and one other. I loved getting to know each of them. All of them have secrets and it’s up to Vera to uncover them. Along the way, wonderful and not so wonderful things happen.

One part murder-mystery and one part friendship and made family. Vera brings this group of loners together. Foodie lovers will appreciate all the talk of food and meals Vera whips up during the “investigation”. I want to try everything Vera made. A little girl will steal your heart, as will Vera. I am truly hoping we see more of Vera.

This was my first time reading Jesse Q. Sutanto works, but it won’t be my last. Be sure to read the back matter and her message about this book and how it came to fruition. This is a book I would recommend to everyone. You’ll laugh, cry, solve a murder and meet lots of memorable characters. It’s bookshelf worthy.

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For a book with murderers in the title, this is not at all what I expected. While it is a murder mystery, it is also a wonderful story of friendship, found families and new beginnings.

Vera Wong is the owner of Vera Wang’s World Famous Teahouse. But unfortunately, business hasn’t been doing too well lately. She only has one customer until one day, she finds a dead man, presumably murdered, on the floor of her shop. Soon after, the suspects start showing up - Riki, Sana, Oliver and Julia. With the police being no help at all, Vera starts her own investigation to figure out who the killer is, while meddling in each of the suspects’ lives to give them a better future, even if one of them ends up being a murderer.

Overall, I loved all the characters, especially Vera and all of her well-intentioned meddling in the lives of the suspects. I will admit that I did guess the killer about halfway through the book, so I wasn’t shocked when it was revealed, but I was satisfied with the ending.

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📖My Thoughts📖

First of all, I’m just going to say that I feel like everyone needs a little Vera Wong in their lives. I absolutely loved her character! She’s one tough cookie but at the same time one of the sweetest people. This has got to be one of my favorite mystery books to date! The characters were just so likable and I loved watching them grow and seeing relationships form. This one had me chuckling and was just a very fun and refreshing cozy mystery. This was a little different (in a good way) cozy mystery than others I’ve read in the past. It just had a different feel to it and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t want this one to end! I’m hopeful for some more books with Vera and the rest of the characters. Fair warning, reading this book may cause you to get hungry and crave some good Asian food. This is a must read if you enjoy a good mystery!
Thank you Netgalley, Berkley Publishing Group and Jesse Q. Sutanto for the opportunity to read and review this book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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*I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers was such an entertaining story! An older, Chinese woman lives above her tea shop. Her days are very monotonous and she is lonely. Until one morning, when she ventures downstairs and sees a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. Naturally, she does what anyone would do… and draws an outline of the body in Sharpie, rifles through the deceaseds’ pockets, and then takes the flash drive he was holding in his hand.

When the police brush this off as an accident, Vera takes matters into her own hands, and starts her own investigation.

Vera is determined, bossy, and so endearing. You cannot help but root for her to solve the case. She befriends each of her suspects, which makes solving the case interesting!

I had the ending predicted about 1/4 of the way through… so as a “mystery/murder” book, this is “Mystery Lite” in my option. HOWEVER! I found myself grinning as I read, and staying up late because I didn’t want to stop reading. The story was very cute, and so well-written, with such likable characters! I didn’t want to believe any of them could be a murderer! Highly recommend you add Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers to your reading list!

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Vera Wong is a sharp, spunky woman (of a certain age) who stumbles upon a dead body in her teahouse one morning. Certain that she could do a better job investigating than anyone else, especially the police, she takes things into her own hands and begins developing a suspect list. From there, a hilarious, heart-warming, twisty adventure unfolds.

This book made me laugh, tear up, and wish for a group of friends like this amateur sleuth and her suspects. I would highly recommend picking up a copy!!

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What was a recent book that you absolutely loved???

For me, it was Vera Wong‘s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. I loved it so much. It is the story of Vera, an older woman who owns a tea shop in San Francisco and finds a dead man in her shop early one morning. Vera takes it upon herself to befriend the people she determines to be suspects. This book is everything. There is a murder mystery but as Vera brings these people together, the mystery is overshadowed by laugh out loud humor and storylines about friendship, resilience, forgiveness, family, love (romantic and self-love) and finding your own happiness. It was quirky, heartwarming, intelligent and clever all in one. My heart is full, my cheeks hurt from smiling and I need more Vera in my life. All the stars, all of them.

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This is a laugh out loud cozy mystery starring Vera Wong, a sixty something Asian woman who owns a Chinese tea shop. When a dead man is found in her shop she’s determine to find the murderer and along the way she makes friends with her suspects.

It was such a charming and bingeable read, told via the POV’s of Vera and her “suspects.” Vera’s character is funny and quirky, and the other characters are unique and have their own secrets. I enjoyed each individual’s stories and how everything unfolded at the end. The book was entertaining and full of delicious food. I loved every minute of it!

Thank you to Berkley for my #gifted copy.

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Widower Vera Wong is fine. She might be lonely in her failing tea shop but there is nothing she can't handle with a bit of gumption. When she opens the shop one morning and find's a dead man, she's convinced there is a murderer afoot. She's seen enough crime shows to know that the murderer will want to come back to the scene, and when they do, she'll be ready for them.

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers was an absolute joy to read. Everything about this book just worked. The characters were amazing, loving, lonely, and distinct. Vera was hilariously overbearing in the best possible way. I loved the way she mothered everyone and her efforts to 'stay hip' are hysterical and highly relatable. All of our supporting characters add so much to the story and their flushed-out backstories, conflicts, and actions tied wonderfully into the story. I loved the diverse cast of characters and as always, I love the way Sutanto is able to capture cultural differences in such a succinct and relatable way.

While still hilarious like the Aunties series, I found Vera to be more realistic and less over the top. Cozy mysteries for me can sometimes be 'too much' or to cheesy. Vera was the perfect blend of adorable and fun.

I adored this book and can't recommend it enough. If you're looking for a heartwarming, entertaining, and cozy mystery that isn't completely over the top, then this book is absolutely for you.


Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is out now. Huge thank you to Berkley Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.  If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.

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This is the third book that I’ve read by Sutanto, and it’s definitely my favorite so far!

After Vera Wong finds a dead man (Marshall Chen) in her tea shop and the police refuse to suspect foul play, Vera takes it upon herself to solve his murder. This story follows Vera’s interactions with the four people she has labeled as suspects (Riki Herwanto, Sana Singh, Oliver Chen, and Julia Chen), and there’s no shortage of shenanigans that ensues.

The story alternates between the five different POVs, which I had no issues following since each of the characters are fully developed and unique from one another. Vera is the main character in this story, and we get the other POVs as Vera gets to know her suspects and the secrets that they harbor.
I absolutely loved Vera as a character. She is headstrong, quirky, and determined. I was so envious of all of the incredible meals that Vera made for everyone (just send me some dumplings and BBQ beef please!).

While the whodunnit story line definitely kept me on my toes, what I loved most was how Vera was able to bring together Riki, Sana, Oliver, and Julia and help them get through the many challenges each of them faced. I also adored Vera’s relationship with Julia’s daughter Emma.

Overall, if you’re looking for a hilarious whodunnit story that also features found family and lots of incredible food then this one is definitely for you!

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With warmth and humour, Jesse has created another masterpiece in Vera Wong.

Prepare yourself to fall head over heels in love with an old lady. Vera Wong stole my heart right from the very first pages. She’s nosy. She’s bossy. And somehow she knows just what you need. We should all be so lucky to have a Vera Wong in our life.

I loved everything about this book. The mystery aspect is well done. Jesse kept me guessing right until the end with plenty of twists and turns. I loved how the mystery is almost secondary to the characters and their developing relationships with each other. It was heartwarming to see this ragtag group brought together by Vera. All the characters were great. Jesse gives us enough information for them to feel fully formed and relatable, but holding back enough to keep us wondering whodunit.

This book is funny. As I’ve come to expect from Jesse’s writing, I laughed out loud many times. I couldn’t get enough of Vera and her antics. From her views on sunscreen, to force feeding everyone, she is both a force to be reckoned with, and an utter delight. I sincerely hope we get to see Vera again in a future book.

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is a cozy mystery with lots of humour and heart.

Thank you, Berkeley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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In Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders by Jessie Q. Sutano, Vera Wong finds a dead body clutching a flash drive in her teahouse in SanFrancisco’s chinatown. Convinced that the cops will be incompetent, Vera takes the flash drive so she can investigate the murder herself. It’s no surprise that with the flash drive missing, the cops are unconvinced that the victim was murdered. After the cops do their investigation of the crime scene, Vera waits to see who shows up at her teahouse, because, of course, the culprit always returns to the scene of the crime. They’ll be looking for the flash drive after all. Vera really is full of unsolicited advice for her suspects, and her ability to command a room is impressive. I love the dynamic between her and the suspects, who she begins to like almost immediately. For a more detailed review as well as a list of more books like Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, visit https://www.pickingbooks.com/blog/vera-wongs-unsolicited-advice-for-murderers.

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Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers By Jesse. Q. Sutanto: Summary
A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.

Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady–ah, a lady of a certain age–who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. Instead, she likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her Gen-Z son is up to.

Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a curious thing–a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. In his outstretched hand, a flash drive. Vera doesn’t know what comes over her, but after calling the cops like any good citizen would, she sort of . . . swipes the flash drive from the body and tucks it safely into the pocket of her apron. Why? Because Vera is sure, she would do a better job than the police possibly could because nobody sniffs out wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands. Moreover, Vera knows the killer will be back for the flash drive; all she has to do is watch the increasing number of customers at her shop and figure out which one among them is the killer.

What Vera does not expect is to form friendships with her customers and start to care for every one of them. But, as a protective mother hen, will she have to give one of her newfound chicks to the police?
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers By Jesse Q. Sutanto: Review
First, the title of my review of Jesse Q. Sutanto Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers should have been: You are going to be thrilled while you pee your pants laughing. However, SEO and the length of the actual title made it impossible. So, I leave the thought with you upfront. You are also going to care A LOT. And not just about the plot, the mystery. You will care and root for this fantastic group of characters. So let’s do this, shall we?

Oh! If you noticed, I haven’t mentioned the “there is so much I want to say but can’t because… spoilers!” This is because I’m not concerned about spoiling Sutanto’s madcap adventure. That is because there is so much to talk about other than the end of this story. A story you won’t want to end. One last thing? This review will have more quotes than usual because Jesse Q. Sutanto’s writing is everything.

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers By Jesse Q. Sutanto: Characters
Vera
I have to start here because of all the mystery and intrigue encompassing the plot; the characters and charm make Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers and Jesse Q. Sutanto unique. First, of course, is Vera. This little lady packs one hell of a punch. Vera Wang is a pistol from her strict morning walk routine to her health beliefs. Oh! Yes, Vera Wong’s World Famous Tea House is neither world-famous nor run by Vera Wong. But since Vera Wong is a famous designer and she is world-renowned, why not go with it? It is only one letter from Vera Wang’s name.

But I digress. Vera believes only room-temperature water is good for the body. Cold water, you see, will freeze the fat in your arteries. And, of course, her unsolicited advice to murderers and her son alike is a riot.

Perhaps you should slip and slide into her DM. Kind regards, Mama… Vera had been particlarly pleased about using the phrase “slip and slide into her DM.”

Vera insists on keeping up to date with every trend.
Vera is the centerpiece of everything, which is just how she likes it. And as each character comes to the crime scene under pretenses, she believes she will solve this case. And before the police. Vera knows best about setting up couples and helping Julia with her baby girl. Speaking of Julia…

Julia
Julia is the tormented widow of the disease, aspiring photographer, and mamma bear to a precocious two-and-a-half-year-old child, Emma. Julia and the unceremoniously deceased had a contentious relationship, to say the least. The night before his untimely death, Marshall had left Julia. As you learn more about the contentiousness of their relationship, this doesn’t bode well for Julia. Poor Julia, who is packing up Marshall’s things to rid herself of them, when the police show up to inform her that Marshall is dead.

Hot take? Not a good look. However, you will notice a pattern of Vera becoming close to those she most suspects of the murder. And when Julia shows up at the tea house, just to run from the door with Emma on her hip? Vera notices.

Riki
Riki shows up, and like Calamity Jane stumbles through, first the shape of Vera Wong’s World Famous Tea House, then Vera herself. And last, why is he at the tea house? Riki knew Marshall, but he couldn’t tell this stranger. And so he becomes Riki, a reporter from Buzzfeed. And Vera is thrilled, which Riki didn’t expect. He didn’t even think she would KNOW what Buzzfeed was or how to access it. Yet, here they are.

You mean the Buzzfeed? Wow! Fabulous, wonderful job, child

As with all the characters, Riki has something to hide, and Vera will get to the bottom of it whether she cares for them or not.

Sana
The tortured artist (her relationship with her mother is… something) who knew Marshall. There is a lot to unpack with that relationship. So, I’ll leave you to find out. But like Riki, she has to see where Marshall died but can’t tell Vera. And so Sana, the podcaster, is born. And Vera isn’t fooled by either of them. Their falsities lead Vera to start her notebook: Vera Wong’s Murder Case.

Suspect 1: Riki Herwanto

-Too handsome to be real reporter

Suspect 2: Sana Singh

-Nails are bitten very badly

Suspect 3: White Lady <Julia> with child

-Runs very fast while carrying child… And why run from my shop? Very suspicious
Oliver
Marshall’s twin brother is just not that mad about Marshall’s demise. He says he has to see where his brother died. Immediately, proud because SHE drew it (what good are the police?), Vera takes Oliver to the chalk outline of Marshall’s body. But there is more to Riki than a dislike for his twin brother. He is connected to another character in this motley group. But which? How? And what does it mean?

Other Characters
Every principal and peripheral character has their own voice. And their unique relationship with Vera. Detective Gray is flummoxed by Vera showing up everywhere and in everything. Her frustration, mixed with Vera’s determination to solve the case, provides some of the best banter in Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. Sutanto writes it brilliantly. Vera has schooled herself on the likes of CSI and Law and Order. So, she knows exactly what to expect when she visits the police station. Except. It isn’t like that at all.

No one is threatening her life. No one is shouting. No one is even looking her way. People just typing into computers like this is a regular office instead of a police station.

And when she finds Officer Gray, loads of food prepared for the police in hand, things take a turn. Marching off to Officer Gray’s office, there is confusion.

“Good Morning, Officer.”

“It was,” Officer Gray says meaningfully… <Gray> follows Vera as she turns a corner and keeps marching… “Um, just where is it that you’re headed, Vera?”

“You’re Office, of course”

“Right. Silly me. Except you seem to be leading the way?”

Vera sniffs. “I keep expecting you to catch up and lead, but you young people nowadays, always walking so slow… because you are always staring at your phone, all day everyday…”

Vera’s son Tilly could easily be the villain, if only because of how he treats his mother. Then there is Vera’s favorite customer. Alex’s wife is sick. So during his ten-minute visit to Vera’s teashop, a respite from caring for his wife came once a day.

Lastly, little Emma. Julia’s daughter is a heartbreaker. Readers nor Vera can keep from falling in love with her.

Jesse Q. Sutanto: Mystery
Read the summary of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murders above. It pretty much lays out the basics as each character meets Vera and each other. They all realize the others have secrets to hide. The problem? They all start bonding and caring for each other. As the story builds, Vera won’t be the only one beginning to hate the idea that one of this newly found family could be a murderer. Each press on to keep their secrets while keeping up with developments. Some start to revisit their pasts and compensate for lost time, lost identities, and painful trauma. Others are just barely staying afloat. But Vera is determined to get to the bottom of this murder, whether anyone wants her to or not.

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Absolutely fantastic read!! Vera is my spirit animal!! I don't think I have ever come across a character quite like Vera. She is quirky, lovable, and completely to the point. This story pulls you right in with Vera's personality and you just keep reading to see what she does next... And to figure out the murder of course! Highly recommend!!

*Thank you @berkleypub for the #gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.*

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