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  • Historical fiction with female teenage detective

    I have been following Su Lin, Ovidia Yu's likable teenage Chinese detective, since book #1, but I think you could comfortably read this as a stand alone. If you do begin with this one, though, I recommend seeking out the first three soon, as they each include a puzzling mystery as well as her growing friendship with Detective Le Froy. This novel takes place during the Japanese occupation of Singapore during WWII, and the story begins with Su Lin being asked to investigate the murder of a neighbor (considered a spy) in exchange for the release of her Uncle Chen from prison. Told in the first person, Su Lin realistically describes the stressful occupied environment of the town, the cleverness of Su Lin's grandmother in keeping her family fed during wartime, the uncertainty of who can be trusted, and the cultural differences between the Chinese and Japanese. Once again Su Lin solves the murder mystery by asking pertinent questions as she observes the behavior of those around her - colleagues and family of the murdered man, the military leaders, and even her family friends. The outcome comes to a satisfying conclusion, with a few twists and surprises along the way. What makes this series a stand out is Su Lin - her love of books and reading, her persistence in seeking out the truth, and her perceptive observations - all described by Yu with a witty sense of humor even when the subject is a serious one. Thanks to the author for a gifted copy of this book. All comments and opinions are my own.

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