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Noodle Shop Mystery #1

Death by Dumpling

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Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

328 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published March 27, 2018

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About the author

Vivien Chien

16 books1,142 followers
Vivien Chien first started writing simple stories about adventures with her classmates when she was in elementary school. As she grew up, her love of books and the written word increased, leading to the attempt of her first novel at age 16. After many struggled beginnings and several different genres, she found her passion in the mystery world.

When she's not writing, she can be found frolicking in the bookstore or searching for her next bowl of noodles. She has a soft spot for doughnuts, a healthy love for coffee, and an extreme need to participate in random acts of crafting.

She currently lives in Cleveland where she is hard at work on the fifth book in her Noodle Shop series, and writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,482 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
May 21, 2018
Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien is a 2018 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Brilliant beginning for this new cozy mystery series!!

I kept hearing about this book and was desperate to try it out, but my local library did not have a copy. But, thankfully, my non-resident Overdrive library sponsor accepted my recommendation of this book and I profusely thank them for buying a copy.

Was it worth the wait and extra effort I had to go through in order to read it? Absolutely!! This is one of the best debut cozies I’ve read in a long time.

When Lana Lee experiences a brutal breakup and then loses her job in quick succession, she returns home to lick her wounds and regroup. She works in her parent’s restaurant, and maybe enjoys it more than she wants to admit, even if she has to put up with her mother’s constant nagging about finding a husband.

Yet life turns on a dime, yet again, for Lana when the restaurant’s property owner dies from anaphylactic shock after consuming shrimp dumplings cooked at “The Noodle Shop” and hand delivered by Lana herself. When the cook is arrested, and Lana is on the hot seat with the local authorities, she realizes that unless she discovers the truth about Mr. Feng’s death, an innocent man could go to prison.

Cozy fans are going to love Lana Lee! Her self-deprecating humor is contagious, and the entire cast and crew is stellar. Sometimes, well, most of the time, cozy mysteries are light in tone, even in the midst of a murder investigation. As such, the plots aren’t often incredibly complex, nor do they dig too deeply underneath the surface, with most villains guilty of the usual crimes with the usual motives. But, this story has a strong cultural and family drama which examines family dynamics and the consequences of ill -fated decisions, keeping secrets, and greed.

Often a debut cozy will lose momentum by spending too much time on character introduction or on the location, than on the mystery, which causes the story to lose momentum and flounder. But, in this case, the author wowed me with her ability to introduce the main cast, tell a very engaging mystery, and set the stage for future installments without the slightest hesitation. There was no timidity, no imbalances!

The characters did their thing, and the story flowed very well as a result. The only drawback is that I now have a craving for noodles and the author has left me drumming my fingers impatiently awaiting book two!!

Great story, with real authenticity!
4.5 stars
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
November 21, 2022
Well, this was an absolute delight. From learning about the Asian American community outside of Cleveland, OH to the lovable characters, this was just the warm hug I needed during a downright depressing couple of weeks. I don't pick up cozies for wild plot twists or deep romance; I tend to grab these when I need strong sense of place and characters that feel like family. If you need an upbeat story that feels a bit like coming home, definitely give this one a try. I may have already ordered the second book to be delivered tomorrow. 🤭
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews19.9k followers
April 29, 2020
Death by Dumpling sees Lana returning to work at her parents' noodle shop after losing her job and her boyfriend. When a customer ends up dead due to a food allergy, she and the chef become suspects in the murder. Lana quickly realizes that she has to figure out what really happened if she wants to clear their names.

This is a cozy mystery and it definitely feels like one. There's not even a whiff of danger as Lana goes around poking her nose where it doesn't belong. She blunders on, asking intrusive questions to everyone, and somehow they all indulge her by answering. Eventually she happens upon the answer, and it proves decently satisfying to wrap the whole thing up.

I initially came across this because I love dumplings, and the titles in this series are just too delicious to pass up. Otherwise, I would say there is nothing special about this debut. It's fine as a cozy, but it's a bit on the bland side. It didn't really grip me or make me feel compelled to keep reading. I think it's because the writing is very simple. Everything is spelled out in minute detail, so the reader is hit repeatedly over the head with things that are obvious and don't really need to be said. It sort of sucks the excitement out of the writing.

Something else that bothers me is Lana's family. Her mom is overbearing and meddling, in the way that Chinese families are. And her sister is kind of a jerk. Probably most other readers wouldn't be so bothered by this, but coming from a Chinese background, I found this hit a little too close to home, and it made those interactions hard to read.

Still, the titles in this series have me intrigued (I know, I shouldn't pick a book by its title, but I can't help it), and the first book shows enough potential that I'll probably go on to read the second one. Hopefully that one will be a little more exciting, and feature more of the delicious Detective Trudeau and less of Lana's family.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
613 reviews19.4k followers
December 30, 2017
Not only was this an engaging mystery but also look at that cover! I've been craving noodles ever since I saw it.

Lana Lee is 27 years-old and works at her parents' Chinese restaurant. Recently, she went through a tough breakup with her boyfriend and has been having a difficult time. Things get tougher for her when the business' landlord is found dead and the cause of the crime is a dumpling from her parents' noodle house.

Mr. Feng, the dead man, is allergic to shellfish and it appears that somebody purposely placed a seafood dumpling in his meal. Now Lana is considered a suspect and she must find out who actually committed the crime.

This was an engaging and light-hearted story and it captivated me from the beginning. The novel is set in Cleveland and has a set of charming characters. It has humor, mystery, and a little bit of romance.

Overall, I enjoyed it and recommend it to readers of mysteries and contemporary fiction.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.

January 27, 2022

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I don't normally read cozy mysteries but so many of my friends kept raving about this one that I ended up becoming really curious. DEATH BY DUMPLING is set in an Asian community in Ohio, where everyone knows everyone, giving this area of the suburb an almost small-town vibe.

Lana Lee, the heroine, is biracial, and in the middle of a quarter life crisis. Having just been fired from her job, she's forced to work for her family's Chinese restaurant, while living in a pretty crummy apartment with her roommate and best friend, Megan. Being so close to the community puts Lana at the forefront of all of the problems, including rent prices. The property manager and friend of her parents, Mr. Feng, allegedly has plans to raise the rent prices of the plaza shopping center, where Lana's family's restaurant resides, as well as a number of other small Asian businesses. A lot of people aren't too happy about this, which is maybe why it isn't too shocking when he turns up dead.

As it turns out, Mr. Feng is deathly allergic to seafood and someone switched out the pork dumplings he ordered from Lana's family's restaurant with shrimp ones-- and then they stole his EpiPen just to make sure they finished the job. But who would want to kill him? And is it really just about rent prices? Lana decides to look into things herself, which results in a sort of love triangle, unearthed family secrets, and someone's murderous desire for revenge.

So as I said, this isn't the normal type of mystery I gravitate towards, but I've been reading a lot of dark things lately and I thought it might be fun to "cleanse" with something more light-hearted. I love the covers for these books and I think they do a really good job setting the tone for the books. This is a little light-hearted, but it also seems to be geared towards a younger audience. I think, since the heroine is in her twenties, this might be enjoyed by YA readers as well as adults, especially since there's a bit of a romance and there's as much focus on food and relationships as there is on the mystery itself.

I actually was never quite sure whodunnit, which made me happy. The only things that kept this from having a higher rating were that it didn't quite have the emotional tension or stakes I would have preferred. There's never any real sense of danger and I didn't really feel much emotional connection with the heroine, not because she wasn't likable, but because all of the tension was mostly surface-level. So, if you're looking for something light and fun, you'll probably love these books. As for me, I liked them a lot and I will probably read further, but they didn't have me white-knuckling the cover, either.

3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,157 reviews1,516 followers
March 16, 2018
Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien is the first book in the new cozy A Noodle Shop Mystery series. The series brings a bit of diversity to the genre by being set in the Asian Village Plaza, a mall with the shops full of Chinese culture.

Lana Lee has found herself returning home to her parents and working in their restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House. When one of the staff asks Lana to pitch in and deliver an order to Mr. Feng, the plaza’s property manager, little did she know it would end up putting her in the middle of the murder case.

After Mr. Feng’s order was dropped off Lana had returned to the restaurant only to have everyone in a panic shortly after when it became clear Mr. Feng had been found dead. The problem for Lana was it looks like the food she’d taken may have been the cause of his death putting her and the cook in the line of the investigation.

While Death by Dumpling was a solid start to this new Asian flavored cozy there was a bit of a spark missing for me personally to absolutely fall in love with the series just yet. As anyone knows that has read my cozy reviews before I tend to love series that are oozing eccentricity or quirkiness and I don’t think that stood out much in this one unfortunately.

I did however enjoy visiting Lana’s culture for a bit and the setting within this series. Lana was about as realistic as a young adult of Asian descent that’s been raised in America could be, she is on the edge between the cultures which is normally the case in that age where he parents and other adults around her are what give more glimpses at the culture. When finished with this one I’d definitely try the next to see if the author could give the series a bit more of it’s own unique spark to make it shine going forward.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,541 followers
March 5, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

As soon as I saw this cover I was all like . . . .

And also I love the occasional cozy mystery so I knew I had to check it out. Then I did what I do best and let my library checkout expire not just once, but nearly three times before finally reading it. In my defense, these types of books are definitely “right place/right time” reads for me. Yesterday not only was I suffering from . . . .

But it was also NEGATIVE TWENTY-FIVE DEGREES OUTSIDE. WTF? Today is Fat Tuesday. How the eff am I supposed to swing my tatas around for beads if my nurps instantly freeze and fall off upon removing my shirt (and in case my children should happen upon this, Mommy is joking – even your daddy doesn’t get to see her nurps so strangers sure aren’t going to).

Anywho, the above amounted to the perfect day for something light.

Meet Lana. She’s a recently single 27-year old who became such after running into her boyfriend Christmas shopping . . . . while he was accompanied by his other girlfriend. She also has found herself working at her parent’s restaurant due to her former employer taking her “take this job and shove it��� recommendation to heart. On about page 5 you hear in passing that one of the characters really has it coming to him and by the 5% mark he’s a stiff. Unfortunately the cause of death just so happens to be a severe allergic reaction to shellfish in some dumplings from, you guessed it, Ho-Lee Noodles – the family business . . . .

This had everything a cozy mystery is supposed to have – the “maybe you can go back home again” trope, a bazillion characters who all reside/work in a tightknit little community, MC/family/friends as the lead suspects which equates to the butting in of noses where they don’t belong, and a potential love interest (or two) for future books in the series.

Really the only problem I had with this debut was my own since the Ho-Lee family owned a Chinese noodle shop that my brain wanted to turn into a Thai noodle shop thanks to . . . . .

I know, I know . . . .

3 Stars is about as good as these get for me, so Vivien Chen has definitely made her mark and there’s a chance when it comes to book 2 (and 3 and 4) in this series, one day I may say . . . . .

After all, they are about Chinese food . . . .

Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
April 18, 2018
This was a fun little debut cozy set in a Chinese neighborhood in Cleveland. I liked that the amateur detective, Lana Lee, is a bit of a failure at life, recently moving back in with her parents and waitressing at the family restaurant. Because of this she gets pulled into a murder-by-poison situation, and decides to take things into her own hands.

I can't ever say much about mysteries because the uncovering of details is the pleasure of the book, but I was never bored.

Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title through Edelweiss. The book came out March 27, 2018.
Profile Image for Stephen Robert Collins.
564 reviews49 followers
June 8, 2018
Sweet n Sour pork & noodles on the side a Chinese takeaway Dumpings in sour soup for Lana Lee when murder is an extra side portion of Shrimp dumplings for fish allergic Mr Feng. Who has put lot of local business in that he rents up & made lot of enemy's so lot of people are mad.
This has the Chinese food in it & has good easy to read feel it just good light mystery & the first volume to new series.
But all I can see here is Francine From American Dad & here her Parents Ma & Papa the Chinese adapter child of Chinese culture. I love American Dad
The person who often is the main choice for the murder isn't or is it? good fun whodunit with noodles, dim sim ,egg fried rice,Jasmin Rice & lot of chopsticks. It is dishes & the taste of Chinese takeaway that adds that extra to make this cut above lot of other American mystery books without that this would be a washout but the food angle adds the extra atmosphere to this book
Profile Image for Maria.
157 reviews89 followers
August 13, 2022
Why do I keep reading cozy mysteries when I haven't liked any in a long time? Excellent question. I have no idea. I get roped in by punny titles and then even when they aren't great I want to know who did it.

This particular book reads like a duolingo lesson.

"The key ring had 14 keys. The first 13 keys did not work on the lock. She hoped the 14th key would unlock the drawer. It did not. She would have to look for a different key."

The very simple sentence structure and repetition were grating to me as a native English speaker but I could totally how someone learning the language could find it useful.

The story itself was fine. There are a ton of 1 dimensional characters running around delivering dialog that's borderline believable.

Despite the title and setting there isn't much about the Chinese culture. In my mind I thought it would be like Arsenic and Adobo but with Chinese food, however all food mentioned was standard Ameican Chinese fare.

If this book were food it would be orange chicken from a mall food court. It's a not great version of Americanized ethnic cuisine but some people are really gonna love it.
Profile Image for Elle G. Reads.
1,552 reviews735 followers
February 19, 2018
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery

I really enjoyed reading Death by Dumpling- the first book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series- even though it took me a while to read it from start to finish. It didn't take me a long time because it's not a fun book to read, but because life can get busy at moments and takes time away from reading. With that being said, this is a great start to a brand new cozy mystery series and I have every intention of reading all of the books that come after this one. The heroine/sleuth, Lana Lee, is a fun one to get to know. She's a smart cookie, comes off as very realistic, and would make the perfect BFF for any cozy reader. The way she sleuths is engaging and readers can figure out clues right along with her as well. So overall, I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading the next book in the series when it is released.


In Death by Dumpling readers will meet Lana Lee- amateur sleuth from Ohio.- Following a bad break up, she decides to move back to her home town and work with her parents at their restaurant. But she doesn't anticipate that this move home will bring a lot more into her life than the grief she is facing from her breakup.

When family friend, Mr. Feng ends up murdered, Lana Lee will stop at nothing to clear her friends name and find out who really killed him. Hopefully she can crack the case before she's next!


One of the main reasons why this book caught my attention is the cover. I am a HUGE fan of Chinese food- it's my favorite- so knowing that this type of food would be incorporated within the story intrigued me. The author did a fine job at picking out the perfect cover to accompany this story. But that's not the only reason I chose to read this one. I also wanted to read it because I don't often find books with characters from different cultures but this one DOES. Lana Lee is Asian/American and readers will become acquainted with both cultures whiles reading it. Finally, I LOVE cozy mystery books. They are lighthearted, fun, and feature characters that readers will be able to get to know throughout an entire series. So I am really happy to continue following Lana (and her possible love life) as she continues to solve murders within her town.

Overall, I loved this one. I think many readers are going to feel the same way once they meet Lana as well. I very much recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries. In fact, I would even recommend it to people who are NEW to the genre. It has everything one would need in order to figure out if they would like the genre themselves. So make sure to check this one out and grab a copy!

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2CxwxVf
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2BCywek

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Profile Image for Leonie.
152 reviews53 followers
July 8, 2022
(3,5 stars)

"Under one condition. Call me Adam."

This is a one POV book, told by the POV of Lana.

Really loved Lana as an FMC. With the name "Lana Lee" she somehow reminds me of a comicbook character. I also loved her determined, book-loving nature (I mean who of us can´t relate to that!?). I also sense a little romance coming up with a certain very handsome detective....

I really liked the side characters, my favorite isn´t even a human but a dog. Kikko really added to this book in my opinion and the name is the cutest (Kikkoman named after the soy sauce brand). I loved Megans and Lanas friendship, they fit together so well and I loved their little detective duo. I especially loved the sexy and grumpy police detective Adam Trudeau.

The plot was good, although the beginng was a lot of info-dumping and some parts felt like a lot was being told that could´ve been showed instead. I enjoyed the mystery element and guessing along with the characters, I have to say I figured out the culprit a little bit before Lana does. The pacing is good, but with the beginning feeling a bit slow, it took me a little while to get into the story. However I loved how there wasn´t just the main murder mystery being unreveled, but also secrets of other people coming to light, connections being figured out etc.

Overall it was a really fun and quick read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

trigger warnings: murder, cheating (not comitted by the MC)
Profile Image for Chatting About Cozies.
1,163 reviews48 followers
February 25, 2021
Interesting debut with protagonist Lana Lee working as a waitress at her parents Chinese restaurant. She thinks her life is ho-hum until the murder of a businessman in the Asia Village throws suspicion on the cook who works at the Ho-Lee Noodle House.

Megan, Lana’s best friend and roomie, is a fun, energetic character and co-sleuth. The Lee Family is pretty normal outside the restaurant, and Mom doesn’t like re-scheduling and missing her soap opera! I enjoyed this story with its clean Murder mystery, humor, great main characters, and great evil characters. I look forward to getting to know everyone better in future books, and learning about the Asian community and culture in the Village.
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,078 reviews244 followers
July 20, 2020
It's been a long time since I wrote a review - and this isn't a proper review, either, but just a litany of "why two stars".

This book has quite the active set of characters. They don't turn, they "whip around". A lot. They don't pass someone or move between two things in a sedate manner, but they "shimmy". All the time. Also, they forget to lock doors when they really ought to, but that's a different brand of complaint - no, this paragraph is devoted to asking "What kind of editor would fail to miss something this annoying?" Variety in the vocabulary used is as important when the vocabulary is creative as when it's vanilla.

It was kind of funny - as the villain gives his patented Explain Everything Before Killing the Intrepid Though Stupid Girl Detective speech (TM), "his lip curled in disgust". What's funny is that mine was doing the same thing just then, because the villain was giving his EEBKtITSGD speech. If he'd shot her when he walked in the door, he'd have gotten clean away. So take note, budding villains... Wait. You're villains. Give the speech: get caught.

I didn't hate the characters, even though Lana is damn near TSTL (and her roommate absolutely is TSTL). I didn't hate the audiobook narration, even though the cadence was deeply weird. And no, I don't mean anything that can be attributed to the ethnicity of narrator or characters - just simple emphasis put on wrong words, so that a full stop comes between a verb and an adverb or a noun and an adjective, and it was annoying. But the narrator's voice was pleasant, character voices were pretty good, and accents were - as far as I know - done well. It wasn't great; it was barely good - but it wasn't actively awful. This was not, overall, rock bottom, and I got adequate enjoyment from the first half or so that I finished the thing. But.

The plot is unoriginal, utterly predictable, and stupid, but it's a 21st century cozy. That's apparently what sells.

The characters are idiots, but not as obnoxious in their stupidity as they probably should be. The amount of breaking and entering they engage in, in the moronic belief that they know better than the police and are the only ones who can solve the case, is somewhat breathtaking.

Bonus point for a different setting than the usual - there isn't a freaking cupcake in sight. It doesn't count for much, though. There was surprisingly little description of the setting. I would have expected something about the smells and sounds of cooking unique to a noodle house, maybe some kind of insight into waitressing (I never did it, so what are things I wouldn't know about unless I had?), maybe sense memories of what it was like to grow up in the place (instead of the simple mention that Lana did so). What it's like to wait on strangers as opposed to people you've known always, or Caucasians versus Asians. Anything. It came close to being something fresh in the cozy genre ... and then flopped. All the usual trope-y characters are there (staunch bestie, evil ex, hectoring mother, doting daddy, somewhat contentious sister, anthropomorphized dog).

The overwhelming concentration on getting Lana a man is almost acceptable in the older ladies, including her mother ... when she starts thinking in the same lines, I want to throttle her.

Slightly spoiler-y complaining:

Of course she and the detective are going to have a Thing. Of course they are.

I had hopes that the revelation that one character was not born where everyone believed she was born would relate to the racism between different Asian countries - although the issues I've learned about are more between Japan and Korea than, say, Taiwan and China ... but I hoped it would be more interesting than what it was.

It wasn't the worst cozy I've ever read or listened to; it wasn't even the worst food-centered cozy I've ever read or listened to. (Congratulations, Joanne Fluke.) But I was so happy when it was over ...
April 8, 2018
I really enjoyed this novel and it definitely was one of a kind! I picked up this novel because I worked in a Chinese restaurant for about five years before I became disabled and I became very close to my bosses and was even manager at the end. The reason I bring this up is because not only could I relate to this novel by knowing the ins and outs of working in a Chinese restaurant, I could relate to being around Asian cultures and how they talk. All of the things Lana was told I have been told by my employers. All the funny traits and cultural things just really made me laugh and just think of the good times at my work. I worked 70 hours a week though there had to be some good times or there were no times!
Also another fun fact is that I am actually mixed racial like the main character and my mom is Fillipino so I have also felt I could relate to some things family life as well! But enough about me back to the book!
This story was funny and I think turned out pretty great for a debut. I loved all the characters besides every once in awhile the MC got on my nerves a little bit. The plot was steady paced but had a couple of short dull moments but I think it was because of the author establishing a solid background for the series. Overally, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next one and hope it grows even more as it moves along!
I want to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate this opportunity and all views expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Katie T.
1,006 reviews88 followers
October 15, 2020
I was going to give this 2 stars until the abrupt terrible ending. I take all cozy mysteries with a grain of salt, but this was one of the most boring books I've ever read in my life. The mystery was pitiful. The audiobook narration beyond cringy. My condolences to the author who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I wish I enjoyed this more.
Profile Image for Lisa Currier.
1,716 reviews49 followers
March 2, 2022
I'm really glad I took the opportunity to read this book again. Lana is a good character and I'm looking forward to continuing this great series.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,735 reviews939 followers
October 1, 2018
Cute, but room for improvement is my overall comment on "Death by Dumpling."

I liked the main character, Lana Lee. Her family sounds great though she has a pain in the butt older sister. Her best friend Megan supports her no matter what and even helps out with trying to solve the crime in this one. That said, I needed more details. We hear about Lana's ex, but not his name, or what exactly was said to him when they break up. We get her memory of her quitting her job, and then that's it. I just felt like I needed more background on everyone and also her before jumping right into, we found a dead body and now need to solve the crime. Also I would thank the Book Gods if we didn't always have the main character falling for the lead detective on the case. Especially since Lana is a suspect in this first book.

"Death by Dumpling" has 27 year old Lana Lee back in Ohio and working at her family's restaurant. Lana is dealing with the set-backs to losing her job and her boyfriend. Going back to work at her family's restaurant makes her feel like she's a loser. It doesn't help that she has a successful older sister. Between her mother nagging her about getting a boyfriend/married and her sister's snide remarks, Lana is just waiting until she can find another job. That is until someone the property owner of all of the stores in Asia Village is found dead. Mr. Feng recently had a lot of arguments with Lana's family's restaurant cook (Peter), a mysterious woman, and Kimmy (the daughter to another set of storefront owners). When the police find out that the dumplings that Peter cooked and Lana delivered to him were the culprit of Mr. Feng's death, she and Peter move up on the suspect list. Lana and her best friend Megan decide to investigate to prevent the police from charging Peter or her with murder.

Lana feels a bit lacking in development to me at times. For example, I don't know what she went to school for at all. She supposedly loves books, but doesn't mention who her favorite author is. She dyes her hair different colors that gets a rise out of her mother, but doesn't really say why she likes to do that. She seems super passive and allows other characters to walk all over her (her mother, her sister, Ian, Mrs. Feng, etc.) Lana initially is also quite taken with the lead detective on the case. But then thinks he is a jerk when he won't discuss the case with her, but then finds herself attracted to him again. And he is beyond ridiculous with doing his whole I must take care of you every time he sees Lana and expressing mild jealously about her going out with another character. They have zero chemistry and no I don't care how many times Lana talks about his green eyes. I already said this in one of my updates, but I hate the cozies that always have the main character and the lead detective get together. It doesn't feel realistic and it just annoys me since every author sets it up as an antagonistic relationship at first.

There's not a lot of development with characters besides Lana's mother and father and her roommate Megan. Hopefully everyone gets more developed as the series goes on.

The setting of this book is Cleveland, Ohio, but there's not a lot of details about Cleveland to make me feel like the author has even been there. We hear about the Asia Village where all of the Chinese vendors/owners work and about Lana's apartment and that's about it. It was interesting to read about a separate side to Cleveland that many people may be unfamiliar with, but I wanted it to be integrated to the overall city.

The ending was fine. I called the murderer early, but that was just because it was the only person that made sense in the context of what Lana was finding out.
Profile Image for LORI CASWELL.
2,413 reviews272 followers
April 28, 2018
Dollycas’s Thoughts

While not a fan of Chinese food, this cover caught my attention, plus it was the first book in a new series so I added to my Kindle immediately.

Lana Lee has grown up working in her mother’s restaurant but never expected to back working there now. Her mother is quite pleased because having her close means she can work on finding Lana a husband. That is the last thing on Lana’s mind.

The restaurant is part of the Asia Village. A plaza that is part of the original Chinatown area on the east side of Cleveland. It is managed by Mr. Feng, who orders lunch from the Ho-Lee Noodle House all the time. The staff knows his dietary restrictions by heart. So when the man is found dead in his office right after finishing his Ho-Lee dumplings everyone is in shock. The chef becomes the #1 suspect and Lana decides she needs to be the one to serve up the real killer. That is if they don’t kill her first.

Ms. Chien has cooked up a great start for this Noodle Mystery Series. A fresh new idea bringing the Asian culture to cozy readers.

The staff at Ho-Lee Noodle House are family. They have known and worked together for years. The same can be said of most of the store owners in the plaza. The author does an excellent job of introducing the cast and the connections to each other. She also introduces Lana’s roommate/friend, Megan Riley, Detective Trudeau and Lana’s dog Kikko. They are an eclectic cast of characters and very well developed for the first book in a series.

The book had a good pace, my finger was swiping the pages rapidly. Twists and turns, and drama that took us to some unexpected places. Lana was a determined sleuth, no matter how many times Detective Trudeau told her to leave the investigation to him. The author took us on a delightful journey to catch the killer with some hard to figure out clues.

I found the setting very interesting and enjoyed learning how the plaza had evolved over the years and how it was the heart of this community.

An entertaining cozy. Mystery, humor and just a bit of romance served up with noodles and dumplings on the side. Vivien Chien has brought a fresh voice to this genre and I am hungry for more. I have marked my calendar, Dim Sum of All Fears will be released August 28.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
648 reviews92 followers
September 7, 2020
I don't read cozy mysteries that often, but a book club friend recommended and it just feels like that kind of year. And after reading a slow moving, dark-sided mystery, this was like a cold fizzy drink for my brain.

Bonus: this is set in Ohio, more specifically the suburbs of Cleveland. Big ups to Cuyahoga County!!
AND the Asia Village, where the story takes place, appears to be possibly inspired by an actual Cleveland shopping center:

Lana Lee is 27 and after impulsively walking out of her corporate job is back to working at her parents' Chinese restaurant in Asia Village. Within the first chapter, Lana delivers lunch to their landlord who promptly dies of anaphylactic shock from eating shrimp dumplings instead of the chicken ones Lana swore she gave him. All of the tenants knew about this allergy, so suspicion promptly falls on Lana and the chef. To save her family restaurant, Lana and her ride-or-die roommate Megan are quickly on the case.

This is a cozy so it's cute, not too deep, there's a grumpy but handsome police detective because of course, and the mystery is not completely obvious but also not that mysterious. This is the first in a series and despite just starting in 2018, the author already has six books out with the seventh on the way. This was an enjoyable diversion and while Chien isn't near as funny as Janet Evanovich (maybe my gold standard for cozies, although her Stephanie Plum series may be too violent and risque to qualify), I've already reserved the second book.
Profile Image for Annie .
2,438 reviews812 followers
March 27, 2018

I’ll be honest. The cover of this book totally caught my attention and when I learned that it was going to center around a noodle shop, I knew I had to read it. It’s not often I come across a series that is so focused on Asian culture and as an Asian myself, it made me proud to see this series.

As an avid reader of Cozy Mysteries, I was very excited to be able to try this new author. Chien’s writing immediately captures your attention. It’s fun and uplifting, with subtle touches of humor, which I think makes her books relatable even if you aren’t Asian.

I really enjoyed Lana’s narration and am looking forward to read more of her. She was fun and spunky and her supporting cast is just as interesting.

The only thing I would say about this book is that the mystery aspect of this book is a little predictable. More on the simpler side, it was easy for me to guess what happened and that’s not what you want in a mystery. Nevertheless, I am excited for this series and can’t wait to see what Chien has up her sleeve next.
Profile Image for Mystereity Reviews.
778 reviews45 followers
February 17, 2019
What a charming book! This will definitely appeal to any cozy mystery reader, but I can see it being a hit with younger readers (and by younger, I mean younger than my creaky middle aged bones! Young people in their 20s or perhaps even teenagers (there's no bad language or sexual situations) would really like this.) With a sprinkle of romance, a bit of intrigue, adorable characters, a cute setting and a captivating mystery, what more can you ask for in a cozy? The Asian venue was a fresh and unique setting for the mystery. This isn't your average everyday cozy!

I loved Lana and her roommate Megan, they made a great team and their enthusiasm caught me up and rolled me right along with them. The cute Asia Village plaza with its Chinese shops sounds like such a great place to visit and browse for a day. Is this a real thing? Is there an Asia Village I can visit somewhere? Hmmm. And the plot! All the twists and turns and red herrings kept me guessing and I was completely turned around upside down by the time I got to the exciting ending. Can't wait to read more from Lana and the gang!
Profile Image for Tina.
398 reviews125 followers
March 26, 2018
An amazing initial book in a series. The setting is uncommon in a cozy mystery. A refreshing read about the Asian people and their culture. There was minimal food mentioned . I found that to be lacking. Figuring out who the murderer  had me thinking right up till the end. Later I'm hit with a shocking revelation I never saw coming.Lana, a restaurant server in her parents restaurant and the amature sleuth is fearless with a delightful personality. The book cover, eye-catching and lively. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Sabine.
593 reviews76 followers
March 8, 2018
A great start to this Asian "flavoured" cozy mystery. I loved this unique setting in the Asian Village Plaza a shopping mall with little Chinese shops.

When the property manager of the Village Plaza is killed with dumplings from the restaurant owned by Lana's family she wants to find out who killed the man. Lana and her roommate Megan make a great sleuthing team.

A very good mystery with just a touch of romance sprinkled on top. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

I requested this book from NetGalley and am thankful that St. Martin's Press and the author provided me with an advance copy.
Profile Image for Lisa Leone-campbell.
449 reviews44 followers
August 22, 2020
So let me start by saying a few of by blogger friends reviewed this book. I had never heard of the series. But I am glad I discovered it!

Twenty-something Lana Lee, (I love the name!) lost both her job and her boyfriend and now works in her parent’s restaurant Ho-Lee Noodle House in the Asia Village Plaza. Depressed and a bit embarrassed at having to return to her parent’s business she is at a cross-road in her life. Her parents, of course, think she needs to get her life in order, find a boyfriend and get married. Clearly this is not in Lana’s future. Her sister, who is in law school seems to be able to carry on with her life without the obligatory companion, but Lana… .

Then the property manager of the complex Mr. Feng ends up dead after Lana delivers him his lunch. And everybody becomes a suspect. It seems although respected, Mr. Feng may have not been very liked by some of the shop owners. There are an array of quirky, funny, intense suspects who each have there own hidden reason for wanting Feng dead.

Lana, against explicit instructions from the (cute) detective on the case, decides to make it her mission to find out what happened, if only to salvage her own reputation as she seems to be one of the prime suspects. She, along with her roommate become very unsophisticated sleuths. But what they uncover unfortunately may get Lana killed.

Adding to the chaos of Lana’s life is a dog named after a soy sauce, a mother and aunt who seem to know more than they are saying, and who are also pressuring her into dating someone who, unbeknownst to them is on her suspect list!

Death By Dumpling is an unexpected enjoyable funny cozy with interesting plot twists and comical dialogue. The characters are believable and most are lovable. This is the first in A Noodle Shop Mystery series which I look forward to reading more of.

Profile Image for Kimmylongtime .
863 reviews76 followers
April 19, 2021
I wanted to like this more. Sexy detective, a single hottie who works with her family. An "accidental" death. I was soo upset 😠 because it took 32 chapters for me to find out who did it. I love the whole who done it plot line. However,was I the only one ☝🏽 stressed about how slow it was going. There was no passion. No fancy hook up 🆙 with the hot detective 🕵️‍♀️. What the cuss 👨🏻 man. I wanted this noodle shop 🍜 🍱 mystery to rock my world. There also weren’t any food puns. Where are the food puns? Trudeau deserves better than this 🗑 town and Lana is a damn fool. She literally was playing with fire the entire time.

I did finish this book though and I am happy that I did. It took too long for the cards 🎴 to fall.

Maybe 🤔 book 2 will be better. Maybe 🤔

Happy reading everyone 😂
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,231 reviews169 followers
September 22, 2018

Entertaining cosy mystery that caught my interest. I mean: yummy food (always a plus), relationships in a seemingly tight little group (but full of secrets), ‘clash’ of generations and cultures, and of course, a murder. What’s not to like? The investigation could have been a little tighter but since our ‘Nancy Drew’ is new to the task, it made sense that her progress was less than straightforward. Looking forward to the next instalment.
Profile Image for Janete on hiatus due health issues.
655 reviews264 followers
August 10, 2021
DNF at page 246. IMHO, nothing really thrilling is happening here. Scribd.com English text, and translation for Portuguese + audio in English from Google Translate.
Profile Image for Barbara K..
397 reviews73 followers
March 30, 2022
Cozies are not my typical genre, but I was happy to go along with this one as a buddy read, and it turned out to be fun.

Lana Lee investigates a murder at the Chinese retail mall where her parents have a restaurant. The property manager is found dead and there is no shortage of suspects.

Naturally, Lana is committed to identifying the murderer, and naturally, in the end she is successful. Along the way we encounter a cast of entertaining characters - and the framework for what will undoubtedly be a successful series.

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