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The Feng Shui Detective Hardcover – January 21, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Feng Shui Detective (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (January 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312320590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312320591
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A bestselling English-language author based in Hong Kong, Vittachi stands to become a lot better known in the U.S. with this soft-boiled mystery peopled by quirky, engaging characters, the first in a new crime series. Set in Singapore and featuring C.F. Wong, a "geomancer" or feng shui master, this lighthearted novel blends, blurs and contrasts the three main ethnic groups of the Asian city-state-Chinese, Malays and Indians. Along with his cohorts, Madame Xu and Dilip Kenneth Sinha (both psychics), the gifted, if often reluctant, detective gets drawn into a plot to save a young girl who has an extraordinarily bleak future, psychically speaking. Wong is dragged to Australia to solve the case by his intern, Joyce McQuinnie, a British-Australian teenager forced on him by a valued client. McQuinnie makes a great foil for his crankiness and obsession with order. The author, unfortunately, sometimes vies for the big laugh with groan-worthy broad humor, usually revolving around someone's accent or lack of understanding of English. Overall, however, his love for Singapore and its distinctive internationalism shines through. Vittachi's unique worldview infuses his writing with vitality and gives his characters a charming believability. American readers should enjoy the virtual vacation this book provides.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This first entry in a series featuring Singapore feng shui master C. F. Wong draws most of its energy from Wong's interaction with his various clients as well as his encounters with brash Australian intern Joyce and his bossy, overly made-up office manager, Winnie. Wong's specialty is applying the principles of feng shui to crime scenes. Nothing pleases the diminutive Asian more than sniffing out clues based on how the room feels, smells, or looks. Stopping only to work on his book, Some Gleanings of Oriental Wisdom, Wong investigates a kidnapping and a mysterious fire some believe was started by a dead man. Liberally quoting bits of wisdom from his book and trying vainly to understand the more modern aspects of Singaporean society (such as coffee shops and night clubs), Wong emerges as a thoroughly appealing mystery hero. Vittachi also populates the story with an assortment of hilarious New Age characters, such as psychic Madame Xu and bomoh (or mystic) Amran Ismail. Reading this charming, funny, feel-good story is bound to result in a huge boost of good karma. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frontis B. Wiggins, III on March 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Both this book and Vittachi's follow-on "The Feng Shui Detective Goes South" are spot-on when dealing with the issues of Feng Shui and how it fits into the daily lives of of individuals. His detective is likable but not devoid of normal foibles and mistakes.
The writing captures the sights/smells/sounds of life in the East very well. My only preference would have been for more focus on Hong Kong (Gongers are more superstitious than any group I've encountered) especially since the author has spent so much time there. But, this is a minor point. I've spent 4 years living in Hong Kong, 3 in Beijing and made long visits to Australia and Singapore (two months in each location) and can attest to the authenticity of the world that Vittachi has painted.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Seeley on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a perfect blend of fun -- sometimes laughing out loud humor -- and Eastern philosophy. Where else can you learn that credit cards are bad Feng Shui and that you should always throw away as much stuff as you accumulate. C.F. Wong, the Feng Shui master and amateur detective hero, is the kind of delightful literary character that will live with you long after you have finished this book.

The only disappointing think about this book is that there are no other installments of this mystery series available, at least in the U.S. Here's hoping the publisher is working on solving that problem right now!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Singapore feng shui guru Mr. C.F. Wong receives negative vibes besides that emitted by his teenage intern Joyce McQuinnie as he inspects the apartment of the Tsai-Leibler family. A fire breaks out that Wong puts out, but the damage to the already badly aligned flat is outright devastating. Adding to the mess as his assistant calls it is a ghost who haunts Dr. Leibler's dental office though feng shui in a house of pain is difficult to accomplish.
A Malaysian witch doctor hires two of Wong's friends to help a doomed client. They in turn obtain Wong's aid as the customer seems fated to tragedy based on every known (and a few unknown) pseudo and occult consultation science employed by the Singapore Union of Industrial Mystics. Wong agrees to assist, but also seeks a kidnapped girl and tries to solve the murder of Dr. Leibler's hygienist with his only guide being that occidental teen who he still is not sure how he became her mentor. Everything seems to come together at the feng shui catastrophic edifice known as the Sydney Opera House, but though they are close to resolutions, the dynamic duo might not survive what they learn.
This feng shui amateur sleuth tale has a madcap story line that entertains readers with an east meets west blending of cultures inside several mysteries. The key to the tale is the relationship between Wong and McQuinnie that is father to daughter, teacher to student, and friend to friend. Though the cases are fun to follow, they act more like support to the lead duet who feng shui their way throughout the delightful plot.
Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the first in the series of (currently) three novels about the unlikely pair of detectives. I can heartily recommend all three books, but the first one in the series introduces the characters in all their loveable diversity.
The main protagonist, CF Wong is a gentle and contemplative character who uses the art of Feng Shui to help him solve various crimes and mysteries. This gives us the best of a fascinating mystery within an unusual context. The author uses his wide knowledge and expertise of this 'trendy' art, but also sees the funny side to so many human experiences, so it is possible to learn a lot about Eastern culture while laughing your socks off!!
In the Feng Shui Detective, the serious, quiet CF is lumbered, as a favour to his boss, with a loud sassy Australian, and their incompatibility and cultural differences provoke hilarious communication problems and dilemmas.
It is East meets West in no usual format, but Nury Vittachi uses a wonderful combination of well-created characters and situations to look at the differences in cultures without labouring the point. The plot-lines are fun and each chapter is a different mystery which the characters have to solve.
I particularly like the beginning of each chapter which starts with a lyrical and mystical thought based in Eastern philosophy, written by CF Wong in a book he is supposedly writing. It is very musical and thought-provoking and a lovely contrast to the wacky events within the chapters.
This book is very unusual, and offers a variety of experiences; a hilarious romp, or an interesting look at cultures - or both at the same time! I can thoroughly recommend this author to anyone new to him.
I just need to know --- when's the next one coming out?????
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hans Castorp VINE VOICE on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First off, the main characters are actually Feng Shui Specialists, hired to analyze buildings, rooms, houses ,etc. to bring maximum harmony and beauty to their work. The criminal investigations come about through their work, and through noticing discrepencies in these spaces that do not conform to the highest Feng Shu Standards. Mr. Wong, the boss, is among the driest, most amusing individuals you'll ever meet, and his 18 year old sidekick, Joyce, is a perfect foil, whose modern English can get Mr. Wong slightly baffled. All very interesting, with some Chinese philosophy and stories thrown in at the beginning of each segment. The reviews, mainly from Asia and Australia, say this is a cult in the bud, and they are 100% right!
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