Review: Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien

Amateur sleuth Lana Lee returns for another charming cozy Noodle Shop Mystery in Vivien Chien’s Wonton Terror…

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?

Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien. A Noodle Shop Mystery book # 4. Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks, September 2019. Paperback edition with 310 pages. Triggers: domestic abuse.

A Noodle Shop Mystery series is a cozy series I am very fond of. I love the diverse cast and the fun Asian Village setting. Lana and her friends have a great chemistry together and it feels very authentic. I am always excited when I see a new book coming out in this series.

Wonton Terror has been on my TBR pile for a few months because of the CRAAAAAZY book reading schedule of last year that I was trying to finish up before 2020 rolled up. This year is a more relaxed schedule so I finally had the time to grab this one out of the TBR pile, dust it off, and dig in!

I love the setting. The other books took place in the Asian Village mall where Lana’s family restaurant is located at. I love the mall and all of it’s fun shop owners, but it was nice to see the crime take place in a new location. Don’t worry! We still see plenty of the side characters we all love from the Asian Village because this time we are located out at an Asian night festival, and several of the shop owners from Asian Village show up there with booths. I really liked this setting because it was a new place that brought the whole Asian community together. It was nice to feel a sense of larger community spirit then just the people who work at the mall with Lana.

Well…. Wonton Terror was not the best book in the series. >.> It’s not terrible, but… I don’t know. Something just felt off. From the very start, this one felt much slower to get going. Then around chapter 9 things finally pick up and get moving and then…. it slows back down through almost the rest of the book. Even the ending climax was kinda slow.

I don’t know why, but it just felt like Lana was spinning her wheels the whole book. Like, she just kept going in circles and running in to dead ends and not really getting anywhere. Didn’t feel like she accomplished much, I guess? She became super OCD about one suspect totally being the killer and just obsessed over this one person instead of acknowledging anyone else being shady. Also, it felt super hard to believe that she never suspected the person who was the killer. It was extremely obvious from the beginning that this person was up to something and acting odd. I don’t get why Lana was acting so stupid in this book. :/ She is normally smarter then this! Yeah, ok, Lana is normally pretty foolish when looking for clues, but still… her actions in this one were just lackluster and kind of a bummer.

I did like that Lana’s roommate BFF Megan played more of a role in sleuthing about. The two friends have a great chemistry and they work really well together. I would love to see them working together more in the future. I mean, Megan has always helped a little, but she finally got to play a little bit bigger of a role then normal. Lana tends to go off the deep end a lot and it seems like Megan’s cautious presence is something Lana needs to help reel herself back in.

A minor thing that drove me insane in Wonton Terror…. is that Adam, Lana’s boyfriend, kept saying “Babe” a lot. Did he always do this?? UGH! It was so annoying!! Almost every sentence he said to Lana included a “babe”! It just made him sound so… BROOOOO. I don’t know. Can’t explain it… it just drove me nuts. Maybe because it was over used? I’m not sure.

Another thing that was a little frustrating in this one, is how much (of Lana’s) family drama was in this one. Each book includes all of Lana’s family, because they are a very close family. Normally whatever happens in the main plot helps Lana realize how much she loves her family and friends, so I get including her interactions with them. In Wonton Terror it just felt like too much, I guess? Lana’s aunt comes to visit and a good chunk of the book is giving to watching the aunt and Lana’s mother yell and argue. I mean, I like seeing spinets of the family but it just felt dragged out, maybe? Or maybe too repetitive?

Like I said earlier, something just felt… off with this book. Like, not enough plot and more filler? :/ Maybe it was rushed? I can’t exactly put my finger on it. I really like this author and this series, though… and I’d love to see Lana and the other characters grow a little bit in the future. I was left feeling bummed and MEH over Wonton Terror. Sad face.

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