Friday, March 30, 2018

Death by Dumpling: A Noodle Shop Mystery

Happy Good Friday!  Wedding Cake Crumble by Jenn McKinlay as well as Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton and School for Psychics by K.C. Archer will be published on April 3.  A Daughter's Courage by Kitty Neale will come out on April 5.  

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien is the first book in A Noodle Shop Mystery series.  A series of incidents (bad break up, quitting her job, and her parents losing a full-time server) has Lana Lee once again working at her parent’s restaurant Ho-Lee Noodle House in Fairview Park, Ohio.  Lana takes lunch over to Mr. Feng, the owner of Asia Village and overhears Kimmy Tran yelling at him.  A short time later, Esther Chin rushes in with the news that Mr. Feng is dead.  Detective Adam Trudeau arrives to question the restaurant staff and informs them that Mr. Feng died from an allergic reaction to shrimp dumplings.  Mr. Feng ordered pork dumplings.  All the residents of Asia Village knew about Mr. Feng’s shellfish allergy and the Ho-Lee cooks even use special pans to prepare his food.  Lana and her family are shocked when Detective Trudeau arrests Peter Huang, Ho-Lee’s cook, for Mr. Feng’s murder.  Lana knows Peter did not harm Mr. Feng and sets out to dish up the truth.   

Death by Dumpling is the first Asian cozy mystery that I have read (I have not seen one before).  I like the authors unique premise of an Asian shopping center in Northeast Ohio (Cleveland area).  The village sounded unique and a place I would love to visit.  There are mouthwatering descriptions of the delicacies served at Ho-Lee Noodle House (had me craving Chinese).  Lana Lee is a typical late twenties female character who fails to think things through completely, says the wrong thing, clumsy and gets tongue tied around handsome men (sounds like the main character in several books that I have read recently).  I felt that Lana lacked depth as did the other characters in the book.  Lana has a typical relationship with her sister, Anna May (she is the older sister and going to law school).  I found Death by Dumpling to be nicely written and have smooth transitions, but the pace was a little slow.  I also felt the book was too long at 352 pages. Fifty or so pages could have easily been edited out.  There are two love interests for Lana (of course).  Is there a rule that cozy mystery authors must include a romantic entanglement for their main character?  The mystery was straightforward, and it lacked surprises.  I wanted a good twist.  The culprit can easily be picked out early in the story.  The investigation consists of Lana and her roommate, Megan Riley questioning people and speculating on who could have committed the crime.  There needed to be some action which would have helped the pacing. My rating for Death by Dumpling is 3 out of 5 stars.   A Noodle Shop Mystery series has potential, and I hope the author ups her game in the next installment which is Dim Sum of All Fears (August 28). 

I appreciate you visiting today.  Tomorrow (the last day of March) I will be featuring The Innkeeper's Daughter by Michelle Griep.    I hope you have a joyful day.  Be careful and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

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