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Review 🔍 Fatal Fried Rice by Vivien Chien

March 29, 2021


Lana Lee runs her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Village like nobody’s business. When it comes to actual cooking, however, she’s known to be about a step up from boiling rice. So Lana decides to go to culinary school on the sly—and prove that she has what it takes in the kitchen after all. But when course instructor Margo Chan turns up dead after class, Lana suddenly finds herself on the case, frying pan in hand.

Since she was the one who discovered the body, Lana must do double duty in finding the killer and clearing her name. Now, with or without the help of her boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana launches her own investigation into Margo’s life and mysterious death. Doing so leads her on a wild goose chase to and from the culinary school—and all the way back to the Ho-Lee noodle shop, where the guilty party may be closer than Lana thinks.

Release Date:
Mar 9, 2021
Series: A Noodle Shop Mystery
Book: 7
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: St. Martin’s Books
Price: $7.99

Lana Lee has a talent for running her family’s restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House. She’s a great manager, but knows nothing about preparing the Chinese dishes they serve to their customers. To escape her family’s teasing, Lana enrolls in a cooking class in a nearby town to learn to cook Chinese food. The first class gets off to a good start, but Lana forgets the materials she will need for the next class and returns to the classroom after it has ended. She is shocked to discover the body of Margo Han, the instructor, who has been fatally stabbed. The detective assigned to the case declares Lana to be his prime suspect in the murder so it’s up to Lana and her friends to find out who really killed Margo.

Fatal Fried Rice is the seventh book in this series, but new readers can enjoy it as much as those who have read the prior books. There is a detailed description of all the shops in Asia Village where the Lee family’s restaurant is located that really helped me picture the area and provides a nice tutorial for new readers. Lana’s boyfriend is a police detective and warns her to let the police and her lawyer handle things. However, Lana feels her best chance of keeping her freedom and getting justice for Margo is to investigate things herself. When her roommate Megan is working and can’t assist, Lana enlists her friend Kimmy Tran to help gather clues. In the past, Kimmy has been a hard character to take to, but in this outing her outspoken ways of handling things are refreshing and humorous. Their scenes in a different cooking class they take together are hilarious, while also moving the investigation forward.

The case takes several turns with more than a few believable suspects before a dramatic conclusion involving both Lana and Kimmy uncovers the killer. I wish Lana wouldn’t take so many risks during her sleuthing, but she is an appealing main character. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but always has the best interest of her friends and family in all she does. This is a fun, quick cozy read that fans of the series and new readers will enjoy.

~ Christine

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