Fatal Fried Rice by Vivien Chien

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

            Fatal Fried Rice is the 7th book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien, who is one of the bright young authors in the cozy mystery genre. Each of her book titles take the name of a Chinese dish, and that it itself makes it a yummy entre into the world of mystery and murder that seems to always find its way into the life our narrator, Lana Lee.

            Lana’s family owns a Chinese restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House, and Lana’s world if filled with mysteries that she somehow always manages to stumble upon, and this book is no exception. Lana is no cook, and gets kidded by her sister about her lack of culinary skills, so she decides to take a Chinese cooking class at a local Community College. As luck would have it, tragedy strikes after the very first class, and as usual Lana is right in the middle of things.

            Having left the class Lana realizes she forgot to get the shopping list handout and so she heads back into the classroom and there discovers the dead body of the class instructor, and to the lead detective Lana is the prime suspect, along with the school’s janitor who has a questionable past.

            Knowing that she is in the crosshairs of the police, Lana is determined to both clear her name and discover the identity of the killer. She certainly has a knack for his since so many tragic events always seem to cross her path.  Helping her is the usual cast of characters from her roommate Megan, to best friend Kelly, and the always helpful (as well as nosy) Mahjong Matrons who congregate each day for breakfast and mahjong at the Ho-Lee Noodle House. In addition, Lana rejects advice from her boyfriend, and that helps get her deeper in trouble but also closer to the killer.

            As with all her books, Vivien Chien has created wonderful characters, a good plot and an enjoyable and sensible/realistic setting. Rather than create a cutesy and made up world, all of these books are set in Chien’s hometown of Cleveland, which adds to the flavor of her books. Chien is a prolific author and her 8th book will be out later this year, but for all her loyal fans and even newcomers, Fatal Fried Rice is a delicious order from the Noodle Shop Mystery Series.

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