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 helping 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.
“Vivien Chien serves up a delicious mystery with a side order of soy sauce and sass. A tasty start to a new mystery series!” —Kylie Logan, bestselling author of Gone with the Twins
"Death by Dumpling is a fun and sassy debut with unique flavor, local flair, and heart.” —Amanda Flower, Agatha Award--winning author of Lethal Licorice
First book in A Noodle Shop Mystery series
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.
My first full cozy mystery read, and this has opened the door to a sub-genre I never knew I needed!