In my last post, I mentioned something about my summer reads trending towards romantic comedies, and then I stopped posting altogether. Sorry about that, friends. I did read a large stack of books over the summer, I just never got around to posting anything. Instead, our little family visited Iceland and France, learned to bowl, did a tour of our favorite Seattle radio station, hung out with friends, and ate a whole lot of ice cream.
Now, the kids are back in school. With one in second grade and one in Kindergarten, this is the first time both kids have been in school all day long. I love my children, but I won’t lie to you, being home alone is glorious.
With rather copious time on my hands (for the first time in 7 years) I really should get back to posting. What better way to kick things off than with the latest book, Wonton Terror, in one of my favorite cozy series, the Noodle Shop mysteries by Vivien Chien.
If you’re interested in catching up from the beginning, I wrote about these books back in April. Wonton Terror is book number four, following protagonist Lana Lee who manages her family’s restaurant, “Ho-Lee Noodles”, when she’s not busy solving murders. In this latest installment in the series Lana gets involved in yet another case when a local food truck explodes next to her food stand at an Asian night market. Ever protective of her community, Lana jumps on the case with the encouragement of her best friend, Megan, and the somewhat reluctant support of her detective boyfriend, Adam.
This series has all the ingredients typical of cozy mysteries, with the bonus of a young, badass, Asian leading lady (certainly something worth celebrating in literature). Endearing characters abound from Lana’s family, to the regular patrons of the restaurant, to the various characters running neighboring shops. Book four introduces readers to some new characters, including Lana’s Aunt Grace. I really enjoyed Aunt Grace who is a freelance travel writer that spends “a lot of her time jetting around the world and visiting one fabulous location after the next”. Aunt Grace doesn’t get along particularly well with her sister (Lana’s mom), so her character introduces an interesting tension to the family dynamic. Moreover she strikes me as a real go-getter, and Lana certainly seems to take after her aunt in this way. I’d love to see Aunt Grace return in future installments. I think it would be delightful to read a mystery where she is more integral to the central plot.
I guess that is a long-winded, messy, roundabout way of saying that the main charm of these books comes from the characters. They aren’t richly written in the way of more lofty literature, but they are 100% befitting of a cozy mystery series. Granted, some characters are stronger than others. In my previous review, I complained about Lana’s boyfriend, Adam, and the rather underwhelming development of their relationship. As a character, and particularly as a love interest, I can still take him or leave him. However, his character bothered me a titch less in book four.
This is the perfect series to pick up if you’re in the mood for something light and easy. It’s not the sort of ghastly, heart-pumping, murder mystery that will keep you awake at night. I think it’s a great addition to the cozy mystery genre. Be warned though, each book in the series is predictable. Less than halfway through Wonton Terror, I deduced the murderer as well as their motive. If you enjoy mysteries for the sleuthing aspect, this series may not be for you. Personally, the cast of characters kept my interest even with a plot that was easy to unravel. Besides, it’s good to have some quick and fun reads in your pocket for times when life gets busy and you want a brief mental getaway.