Thursday, January 6, 2022

Book Review: Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien (Noodle Shop Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery, Lana
Cons: Pacing a bit, a few clinched character moments
The Bottom Line:
Noodle contest death
Lana gets the run around
Enjoyable book

Killer Noodle Contest

About the time each new year rolls around, I look at all the books in series I’ve partially read and vow I will make real progress in some of those series this year.  That’s what lead me to Murder Lo Mein, the third Noodle Shop Mystery.

It’s time for Cleveland’s Best Noodle Contest, and this year, the Ho-Lee Noodle House has the home court advantage since the Asian Village where the restaurant is located is hosting the event.  Lana Lee has just taken over the day-to-day management of the restaurant, but her mother is really putting the pressure on Lana and Peter, the restaurant’s chef, to finally bring the restaurant a win.

The first day of the contest is going well until the head judge turns over a suspicious fortune cookie with a sinister message inside.  A couple of hours later, that judge is dead.  Since he has made a career out of trashing restaurants as a local food critic, the list of suspects is long, but when a friend of Lana’s begins to be the focus of the investigation, Lana begins poking into the case.  Can she clear her friend?

The book does a great job of setting up the contest and introducing us to the victim and suspects quickly.  It wasn’t long before the murder happened and Lana was beginning to poke around.  I did get a little frustrated as the suspects just gave Lana the run around for quite a while, but since Lana was getting frustrated by that as well, I definitely felt like I was in good company.  Eventually, we did learn the secrets and Lana was able to figure out who the killer was.  At that point, everything made perfect sense.

My frustration with the characters is that, once they were introduced, we weren’t given much context on who they were again.  While I didn’t have a problem with the main characters or the prime suspects, I did find a few of the minor characters could have used a little more context.

On the other hand, I did appreciate that we got some growth in a few of the recurring characters and their relationships.  I did feel like it was a bit cliché, but I’m curious to see where things go.

And I definitely do intend to visit Lana again.  I’m enjoying watching her grow as a character, and her relationships are relatable.

Unlike many culinary cozies, there aren’t recipes at the end of this book.  It’s something that St. Martin’s is hit or miss with when they publish a culinary cozy.  As long as you know that when you pick up the book, you’ll be fine.

Overall, I’m glad I picked up Murder Lo Mein.  This is a fun mystery, and it is easy to see why the series has so many fans.

Make reservations for the rest of the Noodle Shop Mysteries.


  1. I enjoy this series - and it always makes me want to order Chinese takeout. Of course, maybe part of the reason I like it is that I live in Ohio and have been to Cleveland several times.

  2. Just finished this book. I am really enjoying this series. I now know what all the hype on it is. I loved this book, the only thing was there were so many characters I got them confused a few times. Can't wait to read the next one!


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