Book Review

Fatal Fried Rice

Fatal Fried Rice

  • Author: Vivien Chien
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Publication Date: March 9, 2021
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Series: A Noodle Shop Mystery #7

CONTENT WARNING: murder, microaggression, infidelity

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. I am giving my honest opinion voluntarily.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lana Lee returns for another delectable cozy set in a Chinese restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio in Vivien Chien’s Fatal Fried Rice…

Lana Lee runs her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Village like nobody’s business. When it comes to actual cooking, however, she’s known to be about a step up from boiling rice. So Lana decides to go to culinary school on the sly—and prove that she has what it takes in the kitchen after all. But when course instructor Margo Chan turns up dead after class, Lana suddenly finds herself on the case, frying pan in hand.

Since she was the one who discovered the body, Lana must do double duty in finding the killer and clearing her name. Now, with or without the help of her boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana launches her own investigation into Margo’s life and mysterious death. Doing so leads her on a wild goose chase to and from the culinary school—and all the way back to the Ho-Lee noodle shop, where the guilty party may be closer than Lana thinks.

While this is the seventh book in a series, I haven’t read any of the previous 6 books, and it worked just fine as a standalone. Since I’ve definitely gotten more interested in cozy mysteries, I will probably go back and read through the rest of the series. 

Even though Lana runs a family restaurant, she’s embarrassed that she can’t cook, and it’s something that her older sister teases her about. So rather than just asking the cook to help her, she decides to secretly take a cooking class that leads to disaster. When the instructor winds up dead and Lana discovers the body, she finds herself named as a suspect. 

When the detective doesn’t seem to interested in finding any other suspects, Lana winds up being responsible for clearing her own name. The detective was such a jerk, and I enjoyed seeing Lana’s mother put him in his place when he behaved in a racist way.

I liked Lana’s character right away. She felt like a real person to me, with her flaws out on full display. She’s smart and loyal, but she’s also impulsive and impatient. There were times where she made choices that I could have reached through the pages and shaken her, and I couldn’t understand why she’d be so dumb! She did a lot of flailing around throughout the story, and basically just lucked out a lot. I wasn’t a big fan of Kimmy’s abrasive personality, but I adored Kikkoman, Lana’s black pug.

The writing was pretty simple, so I flew through the story, and I wasn’t surprised by the killer. I had the person identified very early on, although I couldn’t figure out the reason why. The ending and the reasoning behind the killing just felt a little rushed, and I wish it would have been a little more detailed. However, this was an enjoyable read. It’s a light and fluffy story, just like I’ve come to expect from a cozy mystery. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 4

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