Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Wonton Terror (#1 Noodle Shop Mystery 4th in the series) by Vivien Chien

Wonton Terror (A Noodle Shop Mystery, #4)Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ISBN-10: 1250228344 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (August 27, 2019), 320 pages. 
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley & the publisher. 

The blurb:  Lana Lee is all smiles when the first evening of Cleveland’s Asian Night Market kicks off the summer. The weekly festival is always good for business, packed with locals and tourists, and this year, some stiff new food-truck competition. Wonton on Wheels, run by old friends of Lana’s parents, promises to have customers lining up for their delicately wrapped delights―until the truck blows up at evening’s end.

Lana’s boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, had been planning a birthday getaway for the two of them but, lo and behold, Lana must assume the role of amateur sleuth yet again. With one proprietor of Wonton on Wheels dead, it’s beginning to look more like murder and less like an unfortunate accident. And as they begin to unwrap layers of disturbing secrets, Lana’s own family erupts into new drama. Will Lana be able to solve this crime―or has she jumped from the wok right into the fire?

My review:
I thoroughly enjoy Vivien Chien's #1 Noodle Shop Mysteries because she weaves in experiences, ideas, activities, and culture of Chinese Americans. I'm first generation Filipino American and when I read about Lana Lee and her world it is as though there are all sorts of hidden gems and cultural references. It is like a treasure hunt woven into the mystery. From the weekly dimsum family brunches to the Mahjong Matrons to the celebration of Lunar New Year, Vivien Chien's stories somehow include the activities and things that populate my life.

I find that once I read one of Chien's Noodle Shop mysteries I reread the earlier ones. Lana Lee is second generation Asian American, bi-racial with a tall, hearty and supportive Caucasian father and a more critical, vocal, perfectionist Chinese mother. Lana worked other jobs after college and had no intention of working for the family restaurant. She does end up helping out at the Noodle Shop and part of the small business group located in Asia Village in Cleveland. She is not the traditional Chinese American young woman - she dresses adventurously, colors her hair purple, pink, blue, etc., her close social circle is composed of her blonde roommate Megan and her boyfriend Detective Adam other non-Asian characters. Lana is not afraid of anything and she speaks her mind. She does still see the hidden undercurrents and unspoken communications of the different Asian customers and family friends.

In Wonton Terror, Lana Lee and her chef Peter have a food truck in the Night Market. While the Night Market is packed and busy one of the food trucks explodes killing an unpopular businessman. His wife is under a cloud of suspicion and Lana's mother is upset that her friend is a murder suspect. Lana's known this family since childhood and she finds herself drawn to investigate the mysterious bombing. As bodies pile up, Lana Lee is personally threatened and narrowly escapes a bombing. Lana's investigations take her to talk of domestic violence. Lana's search for the killer threatens her friendships but it never keeps her from a good meal. Another delightful mystery by Vivien Chien!

About the Author:

Vivien Chien was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she grew up in a mixed-race home, making for some very interesting cultural experiences. She found her love of books and the written word at an early age while writing short stories about her classmates in elementary school. Currently, she writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier who refuses to sit anywhere else. When she’s not writing, Vivien enjoys frequenting local Asian restaurants, frolicking in the bookstore, and searching for her next donut.

She is the author of the Noodle Shop Mystery series, including Death By Dumpling.

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