Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer (Madeline Bean #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong and charming characters
Cons: Plot slows down in second quarter
The Bottom Line:
There's one slow section
But overall a strong book
In a fun series

Mah-Jongg and Murder

Dim Sum Dead is the fourth novel about Madeline Bean. Along with her friends Wes Westcott and Holly Nichols, she runs Mad Bean events, a party planning service. Since they live in Los Angeles, they handle many lavish events for the famous and almost famous who populate the area.

Mah-Jongg is becoming all the rage in Los Angeles, and the craze has even hit Mad Bean Events. The Sweet and Sour Mah-Jongg Club regularly hired the firm for their meetings. Right now, the club is getting ready to celebrate Chinese New Year, and Madeline and crew are gearing up for the big event.

As a sideline, Wes restores old homes. While working in his latest, he stumbles upon an antique mah-jongg set. He is able to determine that is once belonged to the late Hollywood legend Dickey McBride. Since his widow, Quita, is part of the Sweet and Sour Club, Madeline plans to return it to her at the party. However, before she can, it is stolen, only to turn up in a dumpster a few blocks away. Then Quita dies. The police are quick to rule it an accident, but Madeline is not so sure. With more questions then answers, she sets out to figure out what it all means.

If you are looking for a light, fun mystery, this story won't disappoint. Combine the fun with an easy to read style, and you'll breeze through this book. At the same time it does have its more thoughtful moments when it throws in a profound question or two. This is definitely something I've come to enjoy about the series.

As always, the characters are great and provide some truly funny scenes. Madeline is strong and confident and a pleasure to read about. Wes is charming, and their Holly is always a hoot. The new characters created for this book are well developed as well.

The mystery is interesting and grabbed me from the start. Unfortunately, the plot slows down a little in the second quarter of the book while the history of mah-jongg is explained at a party they are catering. While interesting, it doesn't exactly move the story forward. The pace does pick up again after that and doesn't slow down until you reach the climax, which is surprising and satisfying. The ongoing storyline of her love life gets a major shake up in this book as well.

This series is high on my favorites list, and Dim Sum Dead is a wonderful addition to the series. If you've been missing out on these great books, start with the first. You'll be glad you did.

Looking for more?  Here are the Madeline Bean Mysteries in order.

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