Published by Berkley on April 27, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320 •Format: E-Book •Source: Overdrive
What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?
You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!
When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It's the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—"Don't leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!"—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie's perfect buttercream flowers.
But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy's great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?
I’ve recently discovered the cozy/humorous mystery genre, and have been consistently delighted with the genre’s irreverent, laugh out loud antics and outlandish premises. Dial A for Aunties fits the bill perfectly, and despite a slow start once they mystery got going I was so amused I could not put it down!
The story centers on protagonist Meddy who has stayed in her Southern California town with her mother and aunties despite her aspirations for a bigger and better life outside of her tight knit family structure. While she at times resents staying home and working in the family wedding business, she also feels a keen sense of duty to stay and represent the family as all of her cousins fled as soon as they were of age. In typical meddling mother fashion, her mom sets her up on a blind date (via catfishing someone on a dating app) that goes very, very wrong- leaving Meddy with a big problem that her mother and aunties team up together to try and help her solve.
Set primarily over the course of a wedding weekend on a beautiful island, the plot continues to get wilder and wilder with the addition of betrayal, theft, inebriated groomsmen, an incompetent detective and a massive storm. I kind of had to suspend disbelief to keep up with all of the crazy antics (and often thought how can so many things go wrong for just one person?) but when I did it was a fun and crazy ride!
While this book was often laugh out loud funny, it also did a good job weaving more important family dynamics beneath all of the hoopla. There’s obviously tension, resentment and jealousy in the relationship dynamic between Meddy’s mother and aunties, and it was interesting to see how and why some were closer than others. It was also “heartwarming” (although given this is sort of a murder mystery it feels odd to use that word, lol) to see how Meddy’s family dropped everything to help her with her predicament, no questions asked. And the whole fiasco really challenges some of Meddy’s long held beliefs about her family and her role within it- recognizing that they would literally do anything for her, and also confronting that they’re not as embarrassing as they seem to her. I think the story captured well the realization that many have in their 20s that the adults in their family aren’t just these imposing authority figures hell-bent on punishing you or embarrassing you, they’re mostly just humans who have no idea what they’re doing as well but are trying the best that they can.
I also loved all of the aunties and their quirks, from Big Aunt’s take charge attitude to Second Aunt’s practicing calming exercise poses in the midst of a crisis- I can easily see how Meddy would get exasperated living with them, but they really brought their own strength and charm to the story. I also loved how even in the midst of a crisis (or two, or three…) they still retained their core personalities for better or for worse- whether it was making tea while being held hostage or scolding their captor for their bad manners.
Overall: This was ridiculous and sort of unbelievable but really fun! It took me a little while to get into it, but I’m glad I stuck with it because it