Release Date: Feb 25, 2020
Series: A Noodle Shop Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Lana Lee has accepted her role as manager of her family’s Chinese restaurant. She has now branched out into catering and her first job is for Donna Weng, the owner of the Asia Village shopping plaza where the Lee family restaurant is located. Word on the neighborhood grapevine is that Donna hasn’t been the same since her husband’s death. At the fancy party Lana is catering for her, Donna shows her bad side, ranting and raving at the nanny over a minor incident with the children. When the nanny is later found dead in the pool, Donna becomes the prime suspect. Donna knows Lana’s reputation as an amateur sleuth and trusts her discretion regarding events in Donna’s past and insists Lana help clear her name, even when the investigation gets dangerous.
This is the fifth book in the Noodle Shop mystery series. Although I have read all of the prior books, that’s not necessary to be able to enjoy this book. It’s easy to get to know the main characters of Lana, her roommate Megan, and Lana’s boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau. Lana’s family is there driving her crazy as usual, but there were less annoying scenes with her mother and sister in this installment. I like how Adam supports Lana in her determination to help Donna, but I wish she would have confided in him even more than she did. It soon became clear this investigation was over Lana’s head and dangerous for her and her entire family, but she carries on often on her own. I think it was selfish of Donna to insist on Lana’s help when the facts came out about the potential danger involved in investigating the case and foolish of Lana to continue. I enjoyed the addition of private investigator, Lydia. It would have made more sense for Lana to back off the case once Lydia was brought in because of how dangerous the players were, so it got harder to suspend disbelief as Lana continued to head up the investigation.
The book starts out slow, but picks up when Lydia gets involved. She is a likable character and helps make up for an overly complicated plot involving the Chinese mob. I would love to see Lydia, Lana, Megan, and Adam all work together and truly cooperate and share information on an investigation in a future book. Even though Lana makes it harder than it needed to be, things are wrapped up at the end and I was surprised by the solution. This isn’t my favorite of the series, but I enjoy the characters and the inside look at Chinese American culture. If the series continues, I will definitely read future books to see what is coming next for Lana.