I stumbled upon Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mystery quite by accident. When I started the first book, I fell in love with Lana Lee’s charm and sass. I also loved all the various food descriptions in this series and found myself perpetually hungry for noodles.
While there are times that I have found myself wanting more romance in this series, the fun mysteries that Chien constructs are undeniable—I am hooked on her mysteries.
Each book could probably be read on their own. Chien does a great job catching new readers up to date on the most pressing back stories in the series if it pertains to the new book, but she is equally careful not to reveal too much about previous books incase readers want to go back and read them later on.
The Asian community is kicking off summer with the return of its popular Cleveland Night Market festivities, and Lana Lee is excited to represent the Ho-Lee Noodle House booth with her favorite chef, Peter Huang. Lana is confident that the evening marks the beginning of a great season to come. Not only is she looking forward to the warm temperatures, but her birthday is only weeks away, her handsome boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, is planning a romantic get-away. Life couldn’t be better.
But before she can get too accustomed to the idea of a carefree summer, an explosion involving a nearby food truck, Wonton on Wheels, kills one of the proprietors and injures several others in the nearby vicinity.
When the authorities discover that this was no accident, the family members of the dead man become the number-one suspects in a front-page murder story. Lana and her best friend, Megan Riley, fall back into detective mode. But as they uncover family secrets of abuse and angry costumers, Lana’s own family drama raises its head. Will Lana be able to juggle everything the universe is throwing at her, or has she jumped from the frying pan to the fire? (summary from Goodreads)
This mystery was super fun. Even though I guessed the culprit, I couldn’t figure out the why which is what kept me reading. Like many readers, I love knowing the why of a murder mystery and this one provided a complex ‘why’ that was interesting to puzzle out.
I also liked that we saw a little more of Megan in this one. She has tended to be a little bit of a flat character in the previous books but in this one we get to see a little more of her. Adam continues to be a slow burn love interest for Lana and their relationship is definitely not the focus of the books but it adds some fun and depth to her character. In some ways I wish there was more romance between them in the books, but it’s nice that the author has spread the romance out over the books rather than trying to jam it into a few books at the very beginning.
There are so many fun quirky characters in this series. The Asian plaza is full of unique characters and I love seeing many of them as staples in this series, along with many new favorites. This series is growing and evolving and the Lee family right along with it. I love the Lee sisters and of course their mom and in this book we got to meet their auntie Grace. It was a full on family reunion that was so comical and entertaining, I couldn’t get enough.
Chien writes with such authority on the culture, plaza, and Cleveland. Her books are always solid, fast reads that I am always looking forward to. I can’t get enough of this series and every time I see a new one coming out, I am eager to pick it up and start reading and getting reacquainted with some of my favorite characters in the plaza! If you love cozy mysteries with delicious food descriptions then you don’t want to miss this series, a series that can easily be read as a stand alone.