Happy Release Day Vivien Chien!
Misfortune Cookie: A Noodle Shop Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – California/Ohio
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 27, 2023)
Mass Market Paperback : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 1250782635
ISBN-13 : 978-1250782632
Kindle ASIN : B0B8X3NZ1H
They say fortune favors the bold, and Lana Lee is determined to prove that true.
Lana, now officially manager of her family’s restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House, is headed to sunny Irvine, California to attend a restaurant convention with her sister, Anna May, along for the ride. The girls’ very Americanized Aunt Grace has asked them to stay in her posh rental, and as the trip begins, it seems to be just what they both needed. Even the restaurant convention proves to be worthwhile and entertaining, especially when Lana witnesses a dramatic catfight between a fortune cookie vendor and a journalist.
Lana and Anna May can’t imagine things getting any better until they learn their aunt has yet another surprise in store for them—a swanky cocktail party hosted for the freelancers of Southern California. But on the night of the party, things go south when a close journalist friend of Grace’s mysteriously plunges from the rooftop of the hotel. Even more suspicious is the fact that Aunt Grace’s friend is the same journalist Lana saw getting into a screaming match with the fortune cookie vendor at the convention.
The police rule the death a gruesome accident, but Aunt Grace refuses to accept that explanation and begs Lana for her help uncovering the truth. Lana, Anna May, and Aunt Grace attempt to keep up appearances as they search for answers, but unwanted attention from suspicious colleagues and convention attendees starts to surface, causing Lana to wonder if they’ll find the killer in time…or if they’ll be the next ones pushed over the edge.
Lana Lee’s life is in a good place. She is managing the family business, the Ho-Lee Noodle House and her love life with Detective Adam Trudeau is moving in the right direction. Now with her job as manager, her mother insists Lana attend a restaurant convention in California, and surprisingly her sister Anna May has decided to join her. They do have family there. The girls’ very Americanized Aunt Grace could be more different from her sister. She is a prominent writer for SoCalSun Publishing who had married well but that went awry. She also has a luxe rental property and has invited her nieces to stay there.
While Lana attends the conference Anna May and Grace do some fun things around town. The conference is okay and even entertaining as a fortune cookie vendor and a journalist treat everyone to a war of words and threats. After her interesting day, Lana meets up with her sister and aunt to attend a ritzy party Grace had been invited to. The night turns ugly when one of Grace’s friends falls to her death from the roof of the hotel. Lana is shocked when she recognizes the woman as the journalist from the convention.
After the authorities rule the death a tragic accident Aunt Grace decides Lana needs to investigate because she cannot believe there was anything accidental. Anna May doesn’t think investigating on their own is a good idea but soon all three were asking questions, snooping around, and putting themselves in danger. Will they catch the killer or will Lana and Anna May’s Californian vacation end very badly?
It was fun to see Lana and Anna May out of their element and away from the restaurant. I really enjoyed meeting Aunt Grace too. She is another strong woman and a great addition to this series. I did miss the characters left back in Ohio though and the humor they bring to the story but soon I was caught up in everything Lana was doing while trying to figure out how to investigate without her usual resources. I was surprised and happy to see Lana and Anna May’s relationship grow in a new direction but will it last when they get back home? We shall see. Ms. Chien does an excellent job of character development and her characters are very true to life. The focus of these three women in this story was very pleasing.
The change in setting brought a real freshness to the series. I mean who wouldn’t want to be in California instead of Ohio in the middle of winter? Ms. Chien’s descriptive style takes her readers inside every place her characters visit with a bird’s eye view of everything going on.
The mystery was very complicated with a plethora of suspects, twists, and turns. Anna May’s objections at how Lana wanted to investigate were true to form but even she didn’t want to be left out. I loved how the story was plotted out. I was kept guessing the whole way. The big reveal was so exciting. Lana really has to think on her feet and Anna May was right there with her.
At the very end, Lana and Adam had a wonderful telephone conversation and it was the perfect ending.
Misfortune Cookie is a terrific addition to the Noodle Shop Mystery Series. Lana has grown so much since the first book, Death by Dumpling. I do recommend reading them all in order for maximum enjoyment. Fans of the series will love this story! I am already looking forward to the next book and catching up with the Mahjong Matrons and the rest of Lana’s family and friends.
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About the Author
VIVIEN CHIEN was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she grew up in a mixed-race home, making for some very interesting cultural experiences. She found her love of books and the written word at an early age while writing short stories about her classmates in elementary school. Currently, she writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier who refuses to sit anywhere else. When she’s not writing, Vivien enjoys frequenting local Asian restaurants, frolicking in the bookstore, and searching for her next donut. (From Amazon)
The Rest of the Series
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”