By Wendy Thomas
Vera Wong wakes daily at 4:30 a.m., takes a power walk that is exactly 3,112 steps and strides purposefully into her day. Each task is met with military precision, and she helpfully advises anyone who will (or won’t) listen on how to live a life of vigor. Especially her son, Tilly, who she thinks should be scanning his office for a girlfriend and waking before the late hour of 4:31 a.m.
Vera may be 60 years old, but her text messages are hip and trendy with slang she looks up on the Google, and her advice is always free and abundant.
Vera, of the eponymous “Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers” by Jesse Q. Sutanto (2023), is a steamroller of a woman who believes there is only one right way to do things and that is Vera’s way. She owns Vera Wang’s World Famous Tea Shop (Wang is not a typo, but a stroke of marketing genius) and specializes in rare and delicate Chinese teas. Unfortunately, her customer base consists of exactly one customer.
When she enters the shop below her apartment one morning, her life suddenly changes for the better because there is a dead man on the floor of her tea shop. The police don’t believe it’s a murder and don’t bring along a crime scene investigation team like on TV.
It’s up to Vera to take care of the details, like outlining the body in Sharpie and taking the flash drive from the dead man’s hands. She now has a mission – to find the killer – and everyone is a suspect. What she doesn’t expect to find as she works to solve the case are people who need her as much as she needs them.
At turns hilarious and heartwarming, this is a story of friendship, loss and found family. The mystery drives the plot, but the people are the real story. Populated by a cast of suspects and secondary characters who are as unique and vibrant as Vera, this sweet read is perfect for Asian-American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Month being celebrated during the month of May at all Denver Public Library locations. Come by and check it out!
The Denver Public Library’s Summer of Adventure program encourages youth from birth to 12th grade to read, make and explore. We provide youth with opportunities for informal learning and activities to help them retain academic and social skills throughout their summer vacation. Plus, it’s free. Visit summerofadventure.org for more information. Register online or at a Denver Public Library branch near you starting June 2!
Wendy Thomas is a librarian at the Smiley Branch Library. When not reading or recommending books, you can find her hiking with her dogs.