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Review 🔍 Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien

August 31, 2020


Is life at the Ho-Lee Noodle House becoming too hot to handle?

Lana Lee’s plate is already plenty full. Running her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Village is challenging on the best of days. But just when Lana thinks she might be able to catch her breath before the weekend—which she’s eager to spend with her equally overworked boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau—Lana witnesses a car accident in the parking lot. And now she has no choice but to get involved.

June Yi, of Yi’s Tea and Bakery, is a serious businesswoman well-known for her heartlessness. But June meets her match when she rear-ends the Cadillac belonging to Mah Jong lover Mildred “Millie” Mao. As each woman curses—and threatens—the other, it becomes clear to Lana that trouble lies ahead. Still, who could have imagined that Millie would end up dead at the beauty salon? The evidence suggests that she was electrocuted while having a foot bath, and all eyes are on June. Can Lana find a way to solve this case before another fatality occurs in Asia Village?

Release Date: Aug 25, 2020
Series: A Noodle Soup Mystery
Book: 6
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: St. Martin’s Press
Price: $7.99


Lana Lee is very busy managing her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio while her sister Anna May interns at a nearby law office. The manager of Asia Village where the restaurant is located then puts her in charge of the summer sidewalk sale and her mother wants her to update the look of their noodle house. She takes a break to try out a new color for her ever-changing hair and ends up a witness to murder. Neither the victim nor the prime suspect, June Yi, have been a friend to Lana, but she agrees to look into the murder to see which of Millie Mao’s many enemies is the real killer.

This is the sixth book in this series, which I have been following from the beginning. I enjoyed the book, but it isn’t up to the usual standards of this series. Lana is as likable as ever, taking on whatever responsibilities are necessary to help her family, friends, and in this case someone she doesn’t even care for. Her out-going, fun roommate Megan Riley is there to help in the investigation even when Lana’s police detective boyfriend doesn’t want her getting involved. This installment allows us to learn more about the Mah Jong Matrons, who appear in every book but haven’t played a large role in the stories until now. I also enjoyed the minor subplot with Lana’s chef Peter and his girlfriend and Lana’s childhood friend Kimmy.

The victim had some many people she didn’t get along with and Lana does a good job of finding and questioning several suspects instead of assuming the obvious one is the killer. There is a clever twist at the end that I enjoyed. The downside of the book is that after a large build-up as Lana investigates many suspects throughout Asia Village and beyond, the ending is abrupt. I was expecting more follow-up on the clues Lana had uncovered when instead the killer is revealed and the book ends soon after that. It was all a little too rushed. Not everything is resolved by the end of the book, and I assume the major loose end regarding the secret Lana’s abrasive sister Anna May is keeping will be addressed in the next book. I think this book could stand alone for readers who are new to the series. However, those who like Lana will want to go back to the prior books to get to know her better.

~ Christine


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