Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien
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.
This was my first cozy mystery, and it was everything I was hoping for. It was light, and sweet, and fun, and I couldn’t wait to find out who did it!
I think one of the things that made this book so enjoyable was how relatable the main character, Lana, was. She read like a real person. She likes to binge TV shows, she lives with her best friend, she reads, she loves donuts. Lana has plenty of sass, too, and enough guts to stand up for herself and others. I loved that she isn’t drop-dead-gorgeous (no pun intended), but just kind of a regular looking twenty-something who isn’t quite comfortable in her own skin. She’s going through a bit of a quarter-life crisis, which I totally related to, but she doesn’t want to admit that she’s still upset about it.
There was a cute romance, perfect for me, but what really shone was the close friendship between Lana and her best friend, Megan. They argued, and bickered, and had real ups and downs, but they were always supportive and just there for each other. They also really like cocktails and pizza. And apparently paint swatches…
I’m no pro at the mystery genre, but this one really kept me on my toes. I thought I knew who did it right from the get-go, and I was completely wrong. I really enjoy amateur sleuths because I get to play along, and Death by Dumpling really played that up. Every time we found out something new I was like, “Well maybe it was THIS PERSON!” It kept twisting, turning, and while the red herrings weren’t particularly convincing, they sure were interesting! By the end I was so anxious to find out whodunnit that I couldn’t put the book down!
I LOVED Death by Dumpling! It was cozy, and fun, and made me really want Chinese food. You can guess what we had for dinner tonight…