This book is what I call a “cozy-ish mystery.” It’s not an examination of the darkest parts of humanity, nor does it take place entirely in a knitting shop in a cozy New England hamlet. It’s just about the perfect thing for me when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the world or my previous read or both. The murder still feels important to the story without getting you bogged down in misery. This is the first in the Crown Colony series and I’ve added the other three to my TBR list. The action takes place in Singapore in 1936 and follows Su Lin, a bright young student at the Ladies Mission School who finds herself hired as a nanny in the colonial governor’s house after the previous nanny dies mysteriously. She uses her intelligence and observational skills to aid the British Chief Inspector Lefroy to bring the killer to justice.
Colonial Singapore is its own character in this book. Su Lin moves from local shops to the mansion of her traditional Chinese grandmother to the Colonial Governors house and gives us an in depth view of her world. She’s aware of the prejudices and shortcomings of the the British but also seems to have sympathy for them and use those same prejudices to her benefit when necessary. She’s a bright resourceful heroine who knows how to get herself out of the very real dangers she encounters while investigating a murder.
A good historical fiction can make you feel transported to a certain place and time and The Frangipani Tree Mystery absolutely does that. You can jump right into the story and feel like you’re a part of it almost immediately. I highly recommend it for fans of “cozy-ish” mysteries like me.