Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto: Audiobook

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto is a charming crime caper with humour that comes with depth and heart. Read my audiobook review.

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers Audiobook Review, author Jesse Sutanto, narrator Eunice Wong

Publication: HarperCollins Publishers, March 2023

Audiobook narration: Eunice Wong, 10hrs 41 mins

Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Drama, Romance, Audio

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers Publisher Synopsis

Edgar Award Winner for Best Original Paperback
Audie Award Winner for Mystery
Libby Award Winner for Best Mystery

Put the kettle on, there’s a mystery brewing…

Tea-shop owner. Matchmaker. Detective?

Sixty-year-old self-proclaimed tea expert Vera Wong enjoys nothing more than sipping a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy ‘detective’ work on the internet (AKA checking up on her son to see if he’s dating anybody yet).

But when Vera wakes up one morning to find a dead man in the middle of her tea shop, it’s going to take more than a strong Longjing to fix things. Knowing she’ll do a better job than the police possibly could – because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands – Vera decides it’s down to her to catch the killer.

Nobody spills the tea like this amateur sleuth.

Knives Out meets Kim’s Convenience for anyone who loves solving mysteries by Richard Osman and Janice Hallett, and watching Death in Paradise and Marlow Murder Club.

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My Review

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers contains all the right ingredients for the perfect cozy mystery, and we were lucky enough to listen to the audiobook narrated by the very talented actress Eunice Wong.

The first cozy mystery must-have is an engaging and memorable lead, and Jesse Sutanto has absolutely delivered on that score with Vera Wong.

The woman’s eyebrows are statement brows, and the statement is: I am f#cking fabulous and don’t you forget it.

Yes, she’s the quintessential Chinese tiger mother with unrelenting standards, but I think no matter our cultural background, many of us will have lived experience of a matriarch that rules with a sharp tongue and iron-will.

Hmm, you don’t look young enough to be Gen Z. You need to take better care of your skin.

Objectively, they can be rude and exasperating at times.

Vera ignores him. She’s gotten very good at ignoring people over the years, especially when they say things like “You can’t do that” or “You’re not supposed to do that.”

But in spite of this, you have to admire their resilience and dogged determination.

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.

Especially when you realise, as readers do in Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, that deep down that iron-will is fuelled by love and a need to derive purpose. And Vera shows her love through tea and food. There is not a situation that she does not have a tea or food remedy for. Beware, the frequent and fulsome descriptions of food within this story are mouth-watering!

Secondly, you need a cast of ensemble characters that add layering and depth, and all importantly, spark humour with their interactions with your lead character. Sutanto delivers on that score also.

Audiobook narration

When you have a single audiobook narrator performing a story narrated from multiple characters viewpoints, this can be a challenge for both narrator and listener. Overall, Eunice Wong’s performance in Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is wonderfully crisp and clear. And, her subtle distinctions between tone and pacing for each character, felt authentic rather than gimmicky. That said, the chapters of this novel being simply named according to the character viewpoint, certainly helped a great deal also.

So, does this novel have any weaknesses? For me, yes. But it’s only a minor point. On occasion, I needed to suspend my belief in regard to some characters’ decisions and/or actions. But overall, this was a worthy trade-off for a highly entertaining story that ultimately delivered more depth and warm and fuzzy moments than I had expected.

I highly recommend Jesse Sutanto’s Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers in the audiobook format.

My Rating

Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5 ; Narration 4.5 / 5 – Overall 4.2

Where to get your copy of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers:

In Audio Bookshop US Amazon

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Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto, Audi Review

What other reviewers thought of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

  • Kirkus Reviews called it ‘literary comfort food in the guise of a quirky whodunit’.
  • I wholeheartedly agree with Library Journal‘s observation that ‘Eunice Wong nails Vera’s domineering yet kind personality with her deft narration’.
  • Doreen Sheridan of Criminal Element, who is Asian-American herself, says ‘Jesse Q Sutanto writes about Asian and Southeast Asian diasporas with brilliant insight, empathy and humor’.

About the Author, Jesse Sutanto

  • Jesse Q Sutanto spent her childhood between Indonesia, Singapore, and Oxford, and she has a Masters from Oxford University.
  • With 42 first cousins and 30 aunties and uncles, many of whom live just down the road, one could say her writing is very loosely inspired by experience.

More titles by Jesse Sutanto

About the Narrator, Eunice Wong

  • Eunice Wong is an award-winning actor, voice artist, yogi, teacher, and writer.
  • She went to Juilliard and has worked at professional theaters in New York and across the US, and appeared NBC, HBO, ABC, and Comedy Central.
  • She has recorded over 100 audiobook titles and received 9 AudioFile Earphones Awards, is the winner of the 2024 Audie Award for Mystery, as well as a 2024 Finalist for Best Fiction Narrator, and Nonfiction; and a 2023 Finalist for Short Stories.