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This spoiler-free book review of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers covers all you need to know about this cozy mystery book. I share my favorite book quotes from Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, frequently asked questions, a brief book summary, book club discussion questions, similar books, other books by Jesse Q. Sutanto, and more!
Content warnings: Murder, stealing, robbery, toxic relationships, estranged relationships
Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio for gifting me this complimentary book. My review reflects my honest thoughts.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers Book Review / Summary
This cozy mystery novel is the perfect buzzy book club pick for fall or winter. Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers summary is all about Vera, an older Chinese woman who really needs no introduction—but I’ll try, anyway.
Vera is routine-oriented, meticulous, and full of—let’s be real—judgments about the younger generation. She’s up at 4:30 every morning and is committed to the small habits that make up a disciplined life. She owns a tea shop in China town and spends her days sleuthing on her grown son . . . who would rather neglect her then try and stay in her demanding orbit.
Everything in Vera’s life is quite predictable—that is, until she stumbles upon a dead body in her tea shop one morning.
Vera tries to piece together what happened to the man, and she’s not convinced the police are doing their job to solve the case. But the truth is there’s a little more mystery than Vera’s letting on.
For reasons she can’t easily explain, Vera swiped a flash drive off the man’s dead body, harboring crucial evidence in a case that isn’t as straightforward as the authorities think.
What follows is a mystery that involves a group of strangers who stumble into Vera’s tea shop, individuals who have their own secrets and fears.
Vera’s sleuthing goes well beyond the case of the man who died in her shop.
Suddenly, she’s intimately intertwined in the lives of several people—young people she wants to help and protect.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is a story of found family. It’s a story about how the strangest of circumstances can lead to new opportunities to grow and welcome—to see yourself and others in a new light.
My Thoughts on Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
I thought this cozy mystery was so. much. fun. The concept of a whodunit dinner party for murderers?! An old lady sleuth who gets into everyone’s business? Lovable characters with past secrets who form unlikely friendships? What a ride!
This book is heartwarming, light, fast paced, and sweet. I’m definitely partial to a found family trope.
The descriptions of the food . . . omg. If you like foodie books, check this one out. My mouth was watering the whole time. And the teas! So damn cozy. I only wish I could go into Vera’s tea shop and try them for myself.
The characters could have been more developed. Julia and Sana had the same negative thought patterns. They were both doormat pushovers and victims to everyone in their lives, which is sometimes hard for me to read.
The young men (Oliver, Tilly, Riki) all sort of had the same personalities, minus Tilly’s standoffish attitude toward Vera.
The villain is pure villain—there’s no grey area, really. So some of the twists and turns might feel . . . extreme.
And listen, Vera isn’t for everyone. She’s kind of insufferable at times. That said, I found myself smiling at her words and actions more often than not. There’s something endearing and funny about her.
Cozy Mystery Formula
The cozy mystery genre is formulaic, and flat characters are kind of par for the course. At times, the plot felt sloppy.
I won’t say too much, but I did find the ending to be slightly predictable. But again, I don’t seem to be bothered by it when it’s a cozy mystery??
I’m not sure why, but even with these shortcomings, I enjoyed this book. It’s definitely not for everyone.
If you like a complex, airtight thriller/mystery with morally grey characters, Vera Wong may not be for you.
If you like a cozy mystery with a found family trope, give it a try!
Favorite Quotes from Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
People always say that your wedding day is the happiest day of your life, but honestly, people should try solving murders more often.—JESSE Q. SUTANTO, VERA WONG’S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR MURDERERS
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.—JESSE Q. SUTANTO, VERA WONG’S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR MURDERERS
Frequently Asked Questions about Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
What is Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers about?
This cozy mystery is about an amateur sleuth and sixty-year-old woman who stumbles upon a dead body in the middle of her tea shop one morning.
She takes it upon herself to investigate when she doesn’t trust the authorities, and she gets herself into some sticky situations.
She meets a group of strangers who are all connected to the man who died in her shop.
Each stranger has secrets, and Vera spills the tea in one way or another.
Who are the characters in Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers?
The main characters: Vera Wong, the sixty-year-old sleuth who finds the murder victim (Marshall); Julia, Marshall’s widow; Emma, Marshall’s two-year-old daughter; Riki, a journalist; Sana, a podcaster; Oliver, Marshall’s twin brother.
Of course, there are other characters, including Vera friend Alex and her son, Tilly. But those are the main people!
Where is Jesse Q. Sutanto from?
Jesse grew up in Indonesia and Singapore.
What are Jesse Q. Sutanto’s books in order?
Here are the other books by Jesse Q. Sutanto, in order:
- Dial A for Aunties (Aunties, #1)
- Four Aunties and a Wedding (Aunties, #2)
- The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties (Aunties, #3)
- The Obsession
- The New Girl
- Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit (Theo Tan, #1)
- Theo Tan and the Iron Fan (Theo Tan, #2)
- Well, That Was Unexpected
- Didn’t See That Coming
- Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
- I’m Not Done with You Yet
Is there a movie for Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers?
In April 2023, it was announced YES! Warner Bros. TV acquired the book rights, and Mindy Kaling is apparently going to produce it! I can’t wait to see how it all goes down.
RELATED: Book Review: The House in the Pines
Book Club Discussion Questions for Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
- Ice breaker question: Favorite coffee or tea drink?
- Vera is such a unique character! What did you think of her? Did your opinion of her change throughout the novel?
- Julia and Sana have their own secrets and past hurts, but what did they have in common?
- How did all of the characters change when Vera entered their orbit?
- Were there any twists and turns that surprised you? Why or why not?
- How did the Asian American family traditions and dynamics play a significant role in the plot?
- This cozy mystery features a strong found family theme. What was your favorite “unlikely friendship” that formed in the book?
Similar Books to Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
These books explore similar themes or are reminiscent of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers in some way:
- The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley
- Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano
- Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson
- Charlotte Isles Is Not a Detective by Katie Siegel
Buy the Book
I recommend Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers for folks who enjoy cozy mysteries that are almost more in the women’s fiction category, fun, heartwarming, lighthearted, and not too spooky or deep.
This is a sweet story about the family we’re born into and the family we choose—and how every decision we make impacts family in one way or another.
If you like reading about toxic or dysfunctional family relationships, found family, and amateur sleuthing with funny, quirky personalities, you will probably enjoy this book.
If your need your mysteries to be airtight, dark, and full of complex character development, I’d reach for something else!
I do think this book is perfect for fall or winter—those reading months where you want to cozy up with a good book and (duh!) tea. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too!