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Publisher's Summary

First in a delightfully charming crime series set in 1930s Singapore, introducing amateur sleuth Su Lin, a local girl stepping in as governess for the acting governor of Singapore.

1936 in the Crown Colony of Singapore, and the British abdication crisis and rising Japanese threat seem very far away. When the Irish nanny looking after acting governor Palin's daughter dies suddenly - and in mysterious circumstances - mission school-educated local girl Su Lin - an aspiring journalist trying to escape an arranged marriage - is invited to take her place. 

But then another murder at the residence occurs, and it seems very likely that a killer is stalking the corridors of Government House. It now takes all Su Lin's traditional skills and intelligence to help British-born chief inspector Thomas LeFroy solve the murders - and escape with her own life.

©2019 Ovidia Yu (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"Simply glorious. Every nook and cranny of 1930s Singapore is brought richly to life, without ever getting in the way of a classic puzzle plot. But what's a setting without a jewel? Chen Su Lin is a true gem. Her slyly witty voice and her admirable, sometimes heartbreaking, practicality make her the most beguiling narrator heroine I've met in a long while." (Catriona McPherson)

"Charming and fascinating with great authentic feel. Ovidia Yu's teenage Chinese sleuth gives us an insight into a very different culture and time. This book is exactly why I love historical novels." (Rhys Bowen)

Featured Article: The 10 Detective Book Series That Keep Us Guessing


Chances are if you’re a mystery or crime fan, you love detective novels. And if, like me, you hate having a suspenseful story interrupted by life’s chores and routines, then you’re always on the lookout for the best detective book series in audio. Here are 10 detective series that are so good, you’ll have a hard time not marathoning them all. Bonus: there are short marathons, two completed series, and series with more than five books for you. Let's go!

What listeners say about The Frangipani Tree Mystery

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Good start to a new series, but...

I see this narrator has the same surname as the author, so perhaps she’s a relative. It’s a shame, because her sense of the story is pretty good, but it’s almost impossible to understand her. Many many final consonants are dropped. The word outside is rendered as “ow sigh”, physical is “fiscal”, wheels is “wills”, told is “toe”. And the word benevolent is rendered as, I kid you not, “belevonent”.
I enjoyed the story and actually would like to know what happens next, but I’m not gonna be able to listen to another one of these unless the narrator changes.

9 people found this helpful

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Great mystery but difficult to listen to

I really enjoyed the story, but it took me a long time to get through this book because the audio had some issues. I had to listen in a quiet place, with nothing going on nearby. This is a problem as I usually listen while walking or driving.

The reader, Crystal Yu, has a very soft reading style most of the time, so you have to turn the volume way up. Then, when a character speaks loudly or shouts, she projects her voice really well, and the listener gets blown out of her chair (figuratively). I suspect that, if the sound editors had done a better job of balancing the volume levels, this issue could have been fixed.

Secondly, though I am used to speaking with people who have different kinds of accents, and I have no trouble understanding her, it is distracting to have English characters (from England in the mid-1930s) speak with the same east Asian accents and speach patterns as the characters who are native to Singapore. I realize that the book is written from the point of view of the main character, but it is very distracting to have so little difference between the vocalization of people from different cultures and geographic regions.

7 people found this helpful

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Good story - unfortunately, poorly done narration

I enjoyed the story - good characters & sense of place & a good initial set up for a mystery series. The narration, however, made the audiobook difficult to follow. Honestly, this book was read, not narrated. There was no difference whatsoever made in my he dialogue voices so he hat throughout I kept having to reverse repeatedly to try and figure out who was supposedly talking. The narrator’s voice was great for Su Lin - lilting & Singaporean accented - but there was no change in tone when it was a man or another woman speaking, except for the voice of Dee-Dee, the 17 year old with the mind of a 7 year old, and that voice was so constantly whining without that it really grates on the nerves. It was all I could do to try & listen all the way through. I would strongly recommend reading this one yourself instead of attempting the audiobook, lest you give up on what looks to be a promising series simply because of the poor narration. I would love this book in the hands of Barbara Rosenblat, Lizette LeCar, or Christine Rendel. Actually, the more I think about it, the problem could be solved by better direction. Christine Yu has a lovely voice, she just needs to be directed to create more distinction between characters and that even the most difficult child in the world does not whine every single sound out of their mouth.

5 people found this helpful

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I loved the charming narrator

I was surprised that others did not enjoy the narration because I thought the reader added a great deal of charm, excitement and sense of place to the novel. Accents affect people differently but I never had any difficulty understanding what was being read and I thought the characters were well distinguished. The whole book just swept me away to a place I have never seen but was delighted to imagine. The main character Su Lin is smart, funny, modest and hard working. The story engaged me completely.

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Good story but quality of narration not consistent

I enjoyed the story but the narration required continued raising and lowering the volume. I also had trouble understanding the narrator at times.

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Great setting, painful narrator

Usually my favorite part about listening to murder mysteries set in countries other than my own is the narrator helps give a sense of place and I learn pronunciations that are much more accurate than anything I could do on my own. This narrator helps give a sense of place, but is not a professional audiobook reader. The pacing and volume are all over the place, the accents/voices by character aren’t consistent, and the author struggles with a lot of words. As the rest of the series is also read by the same narrator, I won’t be listening to any more, but I will look for the titles at my library as actual or ebooks.

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Profile Image for anne
  • anne
  • 11-30-19

A very enjoyable listen.

Not only a mystery novel but an entertaining and informative view of the history of the British rule in Singapore, before the Second World War. Ms Yu writes very well drawn characters that it’s a pleasure to get to know. Looking forward to enjoying more books in this series.

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Profile Image for Amien Johaadien
  • Amien Johaadien
  • 06-30-19

Great mystery - almost cozy

Very good story - great narration - worth a listen for fans of baby Ganesh and Agatha Christie!