by Ovidia Yu
Series: Crown Colony Mystery #5
Publication Date: June 3, 2021
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Blame it on being written, and punished during a pandemic, maybe, but this one wasn’t nearly as good as the last, The Mimosa Tree Mystery. There were serious issues with editing and continuity, both within the story and with the overall series. In the previous book, Hideki tells Su Lin her mother was the youngest of the cousins, but in this book he is said to have looked upon her as “an older sister or mother figure”. The first murder victim in this book is the sister of Su Lin’s aunt by marriage, but the victim is referred to several times as Su Lin’s Aunt and as ‘being married to your uncle’.
There are at least half a dozen more instances where a character does or says something on one page and then is said to have said/done the exact opposite a page or two later. I don’t know if this is poor story editing, or if it’s meant to reflect the hysteria of war time in an occupation where anybody could be shot for simply now bowing deeply enough. If it’s the latter, then the editing still failed as the narrative left me confused about my confusion.
The storyline itself also failed to compete with the compelling storyline of Mimosa Tree, which involved war time codes, rebel forces, POW’s, treasures and a murder that happened just hours before the story started. In this one, the first murder didn’t take place until well over 100 pages of household drama – pretty horrific household drama, I’ll grant, but overall, not worth the 100+ pages it was written on. The last 200 pages have moments that are far more interesting, but not enough to really shine; I kept reading because I kept waiting for interesting things to happen, and they rarely did.
Most disappointing of all was the absence of Le Froy, a primary character of the series, obviously modelled after Sherlock Holmes. While absent for 99% of Mimosa Tree he was a guiding and motivating force for Su Lin and the plot. Here, his name was barely mentioned and only then in passing introspective thoughts. It’s as if with the absence of Le Froy, the story – and the author – lost it’s focus, organisation, and its logic.
But then again, this book takes place in 1944, when the axis countries started to fall apart, and perhaps this books disorganisation is a reflection of the unraveling of the Japanese Empire towards the end. Who knows? I only know it wasn’t nearly as good a story as I know the author is capable of.
I read this for Halloween Bingo 2021. I’m using it for my Truly Terrifying square by invoking my Amplification spell card. Ovidia Yu is a Singaporean author and qualifies as a diverse voice from an historically marginalised community.