As the narrator tells us, the Check Your Luck Agency is a business that could only exist in Asia. Its agents investigate what’s causing clients’ bad or good luck.
Structurally, the novel is more like two stories instead of a whole. Early on, Ursula Formosa investigates a house that the client believes is haunted by her dead husband. In the latter, Ursula joins a television production about hauntings, whilst coming to terms with being able to see and communicate with ghosts.
And the structure is the book’s major problem. It would’ve worked better separated into two stories. As it is, they’re presented as one – though the investigations don’t intertwine. Also, there are back-stories presented as scenes, but they don’t connect with the storyline – see Deepak’s origin (to the agency) story. There are also unnecessary scenes wherein Ursula eats by herself. She goes off on tangents, too.
All that said, Ursula’s voice is likeable, but the novel’s highlight is clearly the setting. I’ve never been to any Asian country, but I could imagine Singapore and Malaysia quite easily, thanks to the author’s helpful descriptions. I’d love to read more set in the cities.
An alternative to Nury Vittachi’s The Feng Shui Detective and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, Cara d’Bastian’s The Check Your Luck Agency is a cosy mystery that’s the first in a series. Return of the Hantu is coming soon.