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The Feng Shui Detective by Nury Vittachi

The Feng Shui Detective

by Nury Vittachi

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187697,277 (3.31)2
CF Wong is not quite a private eye, nor exactly a Zen sage. He is a feng shui master, a geomancer who consults to people who want to optimise the energy flow of their buildings. But his work has a habit of presenting him with problems of a less mystical, even criminal, nature. This summer he has been saddled with a favour for his boss: to supervise a young Australian woman on work experience. Riotous cultural confusion results as the unlikely pair travel across Asia solving mysteries in a style reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. A delightful combination of crafty plotting, quirky humour and Asian philosophy, the Feng Shui Detective is an investigator like no other.… (more)



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A most enjoyable collection of amusing, entertaining and intruiging little mysteries. The culture clash aspect is well-exploited, although I found teenage assistant Joyce a little messy as a character -- I was sure she was from the US at the start due to the variety of English she spoke but it was later revealed she is English. Her voice just missed the mark of ringing true to me. That is a very small nitpick, however, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these short stories as a pleasing, well-written, light-hearted diversion. ( )
  Vivl | Mar 11, 2017 |
Based in Singapore, with a cast of interesting characters from different cultures – Chinese, Malaysian, British, and Australian - the humour is delightful in this novel. Much of the humour comes from language and different interpretations of cultures and words. (It is very similar to the communication between IT developers that happen every day, as the IT world becomes more and more international.) The mysteries being solved – yes, more than one - are also well thought-out and plotted. A delightful novel. ( )
  Calypso42 | Apr 28, 2011 |
A cute little detective story playing on the differences between a wise old chinese feng shui master and a street wise 17 year old australian girl. Mostly short stories with a Sherlock Holmes meets Hercule Poirot kind of ending. I read it as a distraction and that worked for me. Entertaining enough but not great. ( )
  verenka | Jun 29, 2009 |
An Australian 17 year old from Sydney, looking for somewhere to spend her summer holidays is not really Mr Wong's idea of an ideal assistant, particularly when he doesn't really need one. Not only is she female, loud, not Chinese, but she speaks a language he doesn't understand. C.F. Wong is persuaded to take Jo McQuinnie on as a favour to her father, who is by way of being a client.

Mr Wong is a geomancer, a feng shui expert, whose Singapore operation is very small, just two rooms, and just himself and his secretary Winnie Lim. Jo McQuinnie wants to shadow Mr Wong, to spend her summer observing him, and learning about the practice of feng shui.

THE FENG SHUI DETECTIVE is actually a collection of 9 short stories drawn together by their common thread of Mr Wong and his new assistant. They range various locations in South East Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Delhi, and Ho Chi Minh City, providing expert feng shui advice, at the same time solving mysteries from murders to real estate scams.

The reader is introduced to Nury Vittachi's quirky sense of humour early on:

The neighbourhood was temporarily woken at seven o'clock by a minor emergency: a small fire in the building opposite, apparently caused by a joss stick falling out of a shrine dedicated to the God of Safety, according to the watchman. Sirens shook the buildings until a fireman arrived to find an elderly Buddhist nun had stamped out the fire with her bare feet - hard calloused hooves which were quite undamaged by the harsh usage.

Jo and Mr Wong are an unlikely team, she a lively foil to his more sedate approach to life, and the combination works. Very different style of books I know, but I couldn't help thinking of Colin Cotterill's Dr Siri Paiboun in THIRTY THREE TEETH and other titles.

The structure of the book is interesting too. Each short story is preceded by an old Chinese tale, often related to the practice of feng shui. On the following page is Mr Wong's modern distillation of the old tale. The short story that follows is related somehow to this distillation.

If you know nothing about feng shui are you going to enjoy THE FENG SHUI DETECTIVE? Well, having read the book, my knowledge of feng shui is still at best rudimentary. But I found each story posed an intriguing puzzle. Vittachi pokes fun at a variety of things: Mr Wong's attempts to understand his young assistant's language, the food presented to Jo, the ways in which the practice of feng shui is used, while still giving the reader glimpses of local culture. ( )
1 vote smik | Dec 29, 2008 |
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There was something seriously wrong with the apartment, but he did not have the faintest idea what it was.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The first book of stories by Vittachi issued under the name The Feng Shui Detective.
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