Review: Murder Lo Mein by Vivian Chien

The third in a tasty series, Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien is a delight!

Everyone agrees that the food at Ho-Lee Noodle House is delicious—unless it happens to be deadly.

Lana Lee’s stake in her family’s Chinese restaurant is higher than ever now that she’s been made manager. So when she enters Ho-Lee into Cleveland’s Best Noodle Contest, Lana makes it her business to win—at all costs. But when a local food critic receives a threatening note in a fortune cookie and is later found dead, face-down in a bowl of lo mein, all bets are off. . .

Now, along with her sweet-and-sour boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana decides to take matters into her own hands and dig into the lives of everyone involved in the contest. But when she receives an ill-fated fortune, Lana realizes that in order to save the reputation of her restaurant, she needs to save herself first.

Murder Lo Mein by Vivian Chien. Book # 3 in the Noodle Shop Mystery series. Published by St. Martin’s Press, April 2019, 294 pages

I love this series! It is one of my favorite new cozy mystery series. I’ve been addicted to it ever since I read the first book back when it came out. I was looking so forward to book number 3 coming out, that I put in a request at my local library to be the first to check it out when it arrived. ❤ I couldn’t wait! I was not disappointed with Murder Lo Mein.

First thing I want to say, is… just look at that cover!! Book 1 and 2 had great covers as well, but something about this cover just grabs me. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful artwork, the complimentary color scheme, or the fact that I freaking LOVE lo mein… I don’t know, but it is a really great cover. My favorite in the series so far. Every time I looked at the cover, I wanted to run out and get myself some lo mein (minus the death skull of course).

Speaking of craving lo mein…. Murder Lo Mein had me drooling over this noodle dish every time I opened this book. The plot centered around a yummy noodle contest held this year in the Asia Village, where Lana manages the family restaurant, Ho-Lee Noodles. Ho-Lee’s chef, Peter, is also in the contest and is hoping for an epic win over the tough competition! The contest sounded so delicious, and aside from the murder, it was a lot of fun cheering for Lana and her family’s restaurant to take home first place.

One of the best things about this series is the wonderful community of Asia Village. A delightful grouping of shop owners who have been together for as long as Lana can remember. All the shops have a slice of Asian culture for you to browse and everyone is so friendly. You get a real warm feeling of friendships and family from just about everyone. I wish I could go hang out there! I enjoy visiting this place with every book in the series. Normally you get to know the friendly shop owners of Asia Village, and you also get to know the colorful cast of the patrons. In Murder Lo Mien you are introduced to people who are in direct competition with Asia Village, especially other Asian restaurants. I enjoyed seeing other Asian-American communities and it added a little heat to the series meeting people who were the competition and not exactly overflowing with good intentions.

As always, I enjoyed the main character, Lana. Just your average girl trying to figure out her life. She is snarky at times with a streak of defiance in her, but very loyal to her friends and family. I feel a connection with Lana. The things she says and does, it feels like things I would end up doing if I were in her place. She is a very realistic feeling character and I think that’s why I like her so much. In Murder Lo Mein we see a pretty far amount of growth from Lana. Not only is she much more confident in running the family restaurant, but she is also having fun while doing it. She isn’t complaining about it like she was, and she realizes that even though this isn’t where she thought she would be, it’s not such a bad thing. We also see her become more confident in her sleuthing abilities. Lana and her BFF, Megan, are much more willing to step in to the snooping role and they feel like they have good idea for what you should and shouldn’t do now while still continuing to learn. It was great watching Lana become more mature and confident in herself.

The murder mystery was entertaining. It did take about 6 chapters to set up the murder, but I enjoyed watching the cast get ready for the contest, so it didn’t really matter. It didn’t feel like it took too long anyways. When the murder does finally happen, there were plenty of suspects to keep you guessing. There is plenty of misdirection to keep you on your toes through the whole book as well. The killer wasn’t exactly predictable, but it was curious that Lana and Megan didn’t really focus much on that person as a potential suspect. It almost felt like they went out of their way NOT to talk about him/her. They kinda had a reason for why they didn’t focus on that person, but it was a little bit of a stretch. I don’t know… it was just a little hard to believe that they didn’t think of this person a little bit more with as hung up as they got on some of the other suspects with just about the same sort of evidence against them. It didn’t ruin the plot or anything, but, like I said… it was just a little bit curious. Still a very fun and entertaining murder mystery.

The newest edition to the Noodle Shop Mystery series was a very fun trip back to Asia Village. I love visiting this community and I’m pretty sure I drooled all over the book reading about the noodle contest taking place. Lana is a very enjoyable character that showed a lot of growth in Murder Lo Mein. The murder mystery had a lot of swerves, but it felt strange that Lana didn’t really put a lot of focus on everyone who could have been a suspect.


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