Book Review

Death By Dumpling

Death by Dumpling

  • Author: Vivien Chien
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Publication Date: March 27, 2018
  • Publisher: JournalStone LLC
  • Series: A Noodle Shop Mystery #1

CONTENT WARNING: murder, infidelity

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

After reading the 7th books in this series, Fatal Fried Rice, I decided to start at the beginning. And it turns out I enjoyed this book quite a lot! The audiobook narrator was great, and kept me intrigued the whole time. She didn’t have an easy job, switching to multiple people with accents, but I think she did really well. Although one character sounded an awful lot like Miss Swan from Mad TV, which made me laugh.

Lana is a strong female character with an abundance of personality. She’s someone that I liked, and could easily see myself being friendly with in real life. I liked her sense of responsibility to the community, and how it factored into her desire to help solve a murder and clear her friend’s name when he (and her restaurant) are implicated in the murder of their property manager. 

Sometimes when I read cozy mysteries, I think to myself, “Why do they even bother getting involved?” But the motivation is so clear in this one. Not only does Lana have a personal stake in figuring this out, she also has the added benefit of accessing a fairly insulated community. The Asian community she is a part of is fairly close-knit, and doesn’t just open up to outsiders, so Lana is able to dig up information that the detective assigned to the case isn’t. 

I also loved the connection that was slowly developing between Lana and Detective Trudeau. They interacted naturally, and everything built up realistically. It left the door open for more, and I’m looking forward to starting the next book in the series!

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: 3

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