Welcome back to Ho-Lee Noodle House, where you can get fantastic take-out. . .unless you get taken out first.
“Vivien Chien serves up a delicious mystery with a side order of soy sauce and sass. A tasty start to a new mystery series!” —Bestselling author Kylie Logan on Death by Dumpling
Dim Sum of All Fears is the second book in a delicious new cozy series.
Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else. Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge. Surprising everyone—including herself—she turns out to be quite capable of running the place. Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . .and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.
Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case. But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .
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.
She is the author of the Noodle Shop Mystery series, including Death By Dumpling.
Read an Excerpt
"Ai-ya!" my mother bellowed from across the crowded restaurant. She stood up from the table, her hands squeezing her hips. My sister and father turned in their chairs to see what she was looking at with such disdain.
It was me. Lana Lee.
The gawking eyes of just about everyone in the room — including staff — followed me as I slunk across the restaurant to the table where my family was seated. Of course they had to be sitting all the way in the back.
The best way to describe our family of four is similar to the game "one of these things is not like the other," with my dad — the solo white guy — being the odd man out. Even though my sister and I are only half Taiwanese, you wouldn't know it by looking at us. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, "That's your dad?" — well, I probably would never have to work another day in my life.
On Sundays, the four of us gathered for our traditional dim sum outing at Li-Wah's on Cleveland's east side. And because of this, we opened our own restaurant, Ho-Lee Noodle House, at noon. This meant my sister and I didn't have an excuse to skip out on family time.
"Shhh!" I hissed at my mother as I slipped into the empty seat next to my sister. "People are staring at us!"
"Your hair is blue!" my mother screeched, ignoring my plea. "Why is your hair blue?"
My mother, though petite, did her best to tower over the table. At times, it was hard to take her seriously because she was so darn cute with her chubby cheeks, but it was all in the eyes. And today, the eyes let me know that she was not amused.
I lifted a hand to my head, running my fingers through the freshly dyed hair. "Not all of it."
Okay, so maybe it wasn't the best time to dye my hair with streaks of blue. I hadn't really thought that part through when I'd set up the appointment.
Not only was I springing a daring new hairstyle on my parents, who were both on the old-fashioned side, but I was also getting ready to tell them that I had been interviewing for a new office job in the hope of quitting my stint as server at our family's restaurant.
Most of the positions I had been looking into were for data entry, but there was one company that stood out among the others I had applied to, and the position was a little higher on the totem pole. It was for an office manager, and the pay was great. The benefits package was great, the office itself was great ... everything was great. And, added bonus, it came with three weeks of paid vacation.
I'd interviewed with them the week before, and it had gone exceptionally well. They had called this past Friday to set up a second interview for this upcoming Thursday, and I had a good feeling that by the end of it, the job would be mine if I wanted it. Which, of course, I did. After all, a gal can't peddle sweet-and-sour pork her entire life. So alas, it was time to let my parents know they needed to start looking for new help.
"Betty." My dad, the calm and collected one of the family, put a gentle hand on her forearm, nudging her back into her seat. "Let's all sit down."
Anna May — older sister and picture-perfect daughter — gave me a once-over. "And you did this on purpose?"
After stuffing my purse under the table, I shimmied out of my winter coat and hung it on the back of my chair. "Yes, I did it on purpose. Not all of us want to be so plain all the time." I gave her a pointed once-over back.
"Interesting." My sister ran a Frenchmanicured hand through her pin-straight black hair. It fell just below her shoulders, and gleamed. "I suppose you're right, though, not all of us can pull off a classic look."
My own nails, painted teal, were chipping. I hid my hands under the table before she could notice. "If that's what you want to call it ..."
My mother continued to analyze my hair, her eyebrows scrunched low over her eyelids. "Why did you do this?" Her lips pursed as she landed on the question mark.
With a shrug, I replied, "I don't know. I felt like it." Lie. I did know. However, I didn't want to admit to them, or to anyone, that it was because of what had happened to me only a few short weeks ago. Of course, no one would say anything once I explained that it was because my life had been threatened at gunpoint, but part of me didn't want to say that out loud. Saying it out loud made it more real.
Since then, I've decided to stop putting things off until the elusive "tomorrow." Procrastination is nobody's friend.
My savvy stylist, Jasmine Ming, was more than thrilled to swap out my gold peekaboo highlights for some bright-blue ones. I didn't want to go overboard, but I'm pretty sure I saw a glint in her eye when she added the first touch of blue.
I reviewed the plates on the table and avoided eye contact with my mother. Placed in front of me were plates of baby bok choy in garlic sauce, noodle rolls, turnip cakes, and pot stickers. I busied myself with unwrapping my chopsticks and grabbed a rice noodle roll stuffed with shrimp.
My dad looked at me with a soft smile. "Is this because of what's-his-name?"
"No, Dad," I huffed, my chopsticks involuntarily tapping my plate. "I couldn't care less about him."
Okay, that wasn't totally true, either. What's-his-name was my ex-boyfriend, whom we did not mention by name. Ever. Not unless you wanted me to sprout snakes out of my head à la Medusa.
Anna May snickered. "No, Dad, she's dating Detective Trudeau now, didn't you know?" She clasped her hands together next to her face and batted her eyelashes. "He's sooo dreamy."
"Would you all stop it?" I jabbed the noodle roll with my chopsticks. "You're making a big deal over nothing. I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and I decided to stop putting it off. That's all."
I twisted in my chair to properly face my sister. She looked a little too amused at my expense. "And for your information, Adam and I have only been out on three dates. I hardly call that dating. Not that it's any of your business."
Anna May turned her nose up. "Well, I won't be looking for my wedding invite anytime soon, but still, close enough."
"I kind of like it ..." My dad cocked his head at me, nodding his acceptance of my hair. "Now, about this Adam character ... he's a cop, so he's no slacker. Does he drive American?"
"Bill," my mother said, clucking her tongue. "This is no good. My daughter looks like a cartoon."
"Oh, honey, she looks fine," he said, squeezing her hand. "Let's just enjoy our lunch before we have to head to the restaurant." He tapped his watch. "Besides, we still have the news we need to tell the girls, remember?"
My sister and I glanced at each other.
"What news?" Anna May asked.
My mother set down her chopsticks and shifted in her seat. "Your a-ma called this morning. She is very upset and has been crying for many days now." She shook her head. "Your uncle does not know what to do with her."
My "a-ma" is my grandmother in Taiwan. Because of her declining health, she was now living with my mom's younger brother and his wife, along with their three children, two of whom were toddlers. I guessed the living quarters were starting to feel a little cramped.
"So ..." my father started, urging my mother along.
"We are going to Taiwan for a couple of weeks to help take care of A-ma." My mother said this in one long blurt while avoiding eye contact with my sister and me.
"A couple of weeks?" I yelped. No, no, no. They couldn't leave now. Not when I'd just found the perfect office job.
"Right before Chinese New Year?" Anna May glanced between the two of them. "Can't you wait until after it's over?"
My parents looked at each other.
"Who will run the restaurant?" I asked, fearing the answer. Any way you spun it, it wouldn't be good.
Anna May perked up beside me, straightening in her seat. "Well, that's obvious, it's —"
"Lana will run the restaurant," my dad announced before Anna May could continue. He put his arm around my mother and gave her another squeeze.
"What?" my sister and I shouted in unison.
My dad held up a hand. "This makes the most sense. Lana is already working there full-time. And besides," my dad said, eyeing Anna May, "you've got school. You don't have a lot of time to run a business."
I threw up my hands. "Oh, of course, Anna May and her law school stuff again. What about my stuff? Does anyone ever think of what I have going on in my life?"
"Lana." My mother gave me her masterful look of disapproval. "This is something to help Mommy. Why would you not want to help Mommy? I changed your diaper when you were a baby."
I sighed. The diaper argument. Every time.
"I can't believe you're leaving her in charge." Anna May slouched in her seat. "Lana isn't responsible enough to manage the restaurant unsupervised. I'm going to end up putting in extra time to help."
"Are you kidding me?" I turned to glare at her. "I'm sitting right here."
She returned my glare with one of her own. "I know."
"Okay, girls," my dad interjected. "That's enough bickering. This is our decision and it's final. Anna May, you have too much going on in your life to give the restaurant your full attention. Lana has more time than you do right now and this makes the most sense. End of story."
Anna May folded her arms over her chest. "Yeah, I suppose you're right. She doesn't have anything going on besides hanging out at that stupid bar where Megan works."
I stiffened in my seat. "First of all, Megan's bar is not stupid. And I do have stuff going on. Just because I don't tell you every single thing I do doesn't mean I'm not doing anything."
"Right ... so do you want to tell us what that supposed stuff is, exactly?"
My dad shushed my sister and then turned to me. "Lana? Is there a reason you don't want to be in charge of the restaurant while we're gone? If there's something going on, Goober, you need to tell us."
If I didn't speak up now, it would be too late and I could kiss my chance of leaving the restaurant goodbye. By the time they were back from their trip, the position I was hoping to take would more than likely be gone. I weighed my options as my family stared at me, waiting for a justifiable answer.
My mother finally got to me. Her stoicism usually drove me crazy, because I never knew what she was thinking. But today, her emotions were written all over her face. She was obviously tired and stressed. It had been a long time since my parents had made the trip to Taiwan, so I knew it had to be urgent. With my sister canceled out as an option, I knew they would be solely dependent on me for this. Knowing my mother, she would not let someone outside of the family run the restaurant. She'd rather close up shop.
I looked away, feeling defeat. "No, there's not."
"Good, then it's settled," my dad said, rubbing my mother's back. "See, Betty? I told you everything would work itself out."
"When are you guys leaving?"
My mother looked down at her plate. "We leave in three days."
Anna May chuckled beside me.
I'd like to say that this was my biggest problem, but unfortunately, this was going to turn out to be one of my better days.CHAPTER 2
After dim sum, I headed home, a little on the blue side. The hope that I'd been holding on to for getting back to my former life was starting to slip away. In the past few months, things had progressed from bad to worse, starting with breaking up with what's-his-name and drifting in a downward motion toward walking out of a more-than-decent job, a mounting pile of credit card debt, and an obsession with doughnuts that gained me a pant size. (In the wake of emotional disaster, there is nothing I find more comforting than pastries and retail therapy.)
The battle back upward had been a difficult one and I gave in to taking a job at my parents' Chinese restaurant so I could get caught up with my bills again. Turns out bill collectors are not very sympathetic to your breakup-induced depressions.
Don't get me wrong; Some people like being in the service industry. But me ... I'd had my fill. Ho-Lee Noodle House had been a part of my family since before I was born. There wasn't a time I remembered it not being there. But I needed a change of pace.
I don't think it had originally been my mother's dream to open a restaurant, but regardless, she and my father poured everything they had into making their business succeed. The plan was to keep Ho-Lee Noodle House alive for as long as possible, which for them meant keeping it in the family.
With two daughters, you wouldn't necessarily think that the burden would be left on my shoulders. You'd think that it would go to the eldest. But you'd be wrong.
Anna May, the scholar of the two of us, had her whole life planned out in a detailed outline that she'd started when she was around sixteen and read her first John Grisham novel. From there, talk about criminal law was just as common in the Lee family household as talk about noodle recipes.
Of course at that time, being two years her junior, I was still concerned with rock band posters and how I was going to get out of third-period gym class. I had no ambitions that could rival my sister's legal dream.
Maybe it was the pressure of comparing myself with her that led me down my eventual path of idealism. I became the dreamer of the family, the lover of arts and literature, taking joy in things that were made with creativity. I wanted to do something meaningful ... to be driven by passion. I wanted to have something more than simply "a job."
I just wasn't sure what that entailed exactly. I had my interests, but nothing had stuck in terms of "lifelong."
And as most twenty-somethings come to realize, having a dream doesn't actually pay the bills. After college, I floundered around aimlessly looking for jobs that would at least sustain my life as an adult, all the while knowing that if I didn't find a grand career scheme like my sister, my fate would be chosen for me.
All of this tumbled through my head as I walked into the two-bedroom apartment I shared with my best friend, Megan. It was a modest garden-style apartment in North Olmsted, which was only a hop, skip, and jump away from Asia Village. It made my commute easy and was one thing I could put on the "pro" side of my list.
Kikko, my black pug, waddled to the door to greet me. Her curly tail wiggled as she spun around my ankles. I knelt down to give her a pat on the head. She approved and scampered off in search of something acceptable to bring me.
Meanwhile, I found Megan sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in hand and paint swatches scattered in front of her. She was still in her pajamas, makeup-less, and her blond hair was swept away from her face by a thick black headband. Without looking up, she said, "Oh good, you're home. I was just about to text you. I was thinking we could go to Home Depot today. I've decided on this mermaid theme for the bathroom, and this teal is the perfect color to paint the walls." She held up a swatch to show me her recent selection. "I also need to grab a new flashlight and some window cleaner."
"A flashlight? We have one under the sink."
"I want one for my car. I'm putting together a whole kit of tools to keep in the trunk."
I studied the paint swatch. "This works for me," I said, with little emotion. I was too bogged down with my current pity party to give a more enthused answer.
"It kind of matches your hair." She looked up and frowned. "What happened? Did your mom give you a hard time about your new dye job? Because you said you were anticipating that, and we decided you weren't going to let it get to you, remember? We both know she doesn't do well with change."
I nodded, sitting across from her, still in my coat. "Yeah, but that got overshadowed real fast."
"My parents announced that they're going to Taiwan for a couple of weeks to help take care of my grandmother."
Megan sipped her coffee, unimpressed with my news. "What's the big deal with that?"
"They're leaving me in charge of the restaurant. They leave on Wednesday." I slouched in the chair.
"Wednesday!" Megan shouted.
Kikko came barreling into the dining area, stuffed duck flapping in her mouth. She dropped it at my feet and looked at me in anticipation.
I knelt down and picked up the duck, throwing it into the hallway. Kikko happily scuttled after it. "Yes, Wednesday, the day before my interview. The interview I'm not going to make because I now have to work."
"But didn't you tell your parents that you were trying to get this job?"
I looked at the floor.
"You did, right?" Megan insisted.
"I didn't think it was a good time ..."
"Lana! How else are you going to get out of that place if you don't speak up?"
"It wasn't a good time to bring it up. It's really important to my mom that she go to Taiwan right now, and I didn't want to cause more problems for them," I said, trying to justify my actions. "Who else is going to do it?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Dim Sum of All Fears"
Copyright © 2018 Vivien Chien.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the first series and book I have read by Viven Chien and I plan to read more by this author. From the title, to the characters this story can be read as a stand alone novel that will have readers laughing, enjoying the awkward moments during the buding romance of the two lead characters. The mystery is enjoyable predictable but it isn't about solving the mystery but enjoying the ride and I can promise readers will be laughing. Readers will enjoy the way the author Vivien Chien is able to bring the knowledge of a culture while intertwining romance, mystery and humor. This is a must read author for Cozy Mystery fans. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher St. Martin Press for the advance copy of Vivien Chien Dim Dum of all Fears.
This book was an enjoyable read. I liked getting a glimpse into the restaurant business and learning about these characters. You don’t need to read the first book in the series, but it may help in getting to know the characters a little better. The characters are quirky and witty, the story has a solid mystery, and the pacing of the story was done well. The internal struggle of the main character, Lana Lee, was done exceptionally well in her dealing with doing what she loves versus following tradition. This was an engaging cozy mystery, and I look forward to reading the next installment of the series. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien is the second in the Noodle Shop Mystery series. This is the first that I have read and it won't be the last. Dim Sum could be a stand alone. Lana Lee is a server at her parents Noodle Shop but is wanting to try something new. Just when she thinks she has a chance, she is thrown into running the shop while her parents go to Taiwan to be with her grandmother. In addition to having to take charge of the Noodle shop, she has to deal with her sister, who feels she should be in charge, and it is winter in Cleveland, think snow and ice. She is no sooner placed in charge when a murder occurs in the shop next to hers and it's a friend and her husband. Lana knows she must get answers. There is a great story line, relatable characters, romance, and plenty of suspects. There are plenty of twists and turns and you are kept guessing until the end. I was given a ARC by Netgalley for an honest review.
In book 2 of the Noodle Shop Mysteries, Lana grows as a character. She is confident she will soon have a new job as an office manager. She is sporting a new look, her hair is dyed fashionably blue. Her new relationship with Adam is progressing, although Lana still burned from the previous unnamed jerk, is still cautious. Her plans for a new job are suddenly uprooted when she is told her parents are leaving for Taiwan to be with "A-Ma", Lana's grandmother. Lana will be managing the restaurant. Annie Mae is to continue her studies, and she also continues to be the over bearing big sister. Family comes before her own life, Lana believes, her own plans are put on hold. At Asian Village, things are running smoothly. Chinese New Years a few weeks away. A new shop, City Charm Souvenirs, has opened next door to the Ho-Lee Noodle House. Lana and Isabelle, one of the shop owners have formed a friendship. Ian is managing the shopping center, the trauma from book 1 is fading. A casino has opened near by that Mama Lee and her friend Esther enjoy. All seems well. Then when her parents are in China, Lana is the second person at a crime scene. Her new friend Isabelle and her husband Brandon are dead. It looks like a murder/suicide. Adam is at the scene, Ian is there too, but is thinking only of business. Lana is determined to avoid getting involved. Believing in justice, she wants the police to handle things. Will she be able to not be an amateur sleuth? Nope. Too many people are willing to share their stories. Meagan, her room mate, wants to be a Watson to her Sherlock. Ian wants her involvement. Adam wants her to be safe. Chien's skill as a narrators allows the reader to agree with Lana's decisions as the story unfolds. In the age of cultural sensitivity, I was a bit surprised with the voices of the elder people in Lana's life. Then, I realized that Chien allows the character's to sound true to life. Likewise, the family dynamics within the Lee household are very reminiscent of those found in First and Second generation biographies. The Noodle Shop Mysteries offer a fictional window into the life of a modern Chinese American family. No spoilers here, safe to say the villain was unexpected. I am very pleased that book 3 is already here. Hoping for more adventures set in Cleveland's Asian Village. Recommended
Lana is a delightful protaganist
Great cover on the outside and great reading on the inside! I enjoyed book 2 in this new series even more than the first book. Now I do need to find out if Cleveland does have something like the Asian Village!
Each page was a delicious morsel. DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS by Vivien Chien The Second Noodle House Mystery Ever grateful for the safety net her parents' restaurant provided, Lana Lee is now ready to move on. But her new job is lost before her interview when her parent's announce they are going on an extended trip to Taiwan and leave Lana in charge of the Ho-Lee Noodle House. At least Lana can spend time with her new friend. Isabelle and her husband Brandon recently opened a souvenir shop in Asia Village, and although Brandon seems a bit sketchy, Lana enjoys Isabelle's company. While things are running smoothly at the restaurant Asia Village suffers another tragedy when Isabelle and her husband are found dead in an apparent murder/suicide in their shop. Did Brandon kill his young wife before killing himself? Or was he a victim as well? Lana is determined to find the truth and justice for her friend. I loved this second outing in the Noodle House Mystery series. Each page was a delicious morsel, the mystery, fulfilling fare. While still unsure of her future, Lana is coming into her own. Her attitude, the strength of her friendships and loyalty, make her an admirable woman...even if her life is uncertain and a bit of a mess. I would be proud to call Lana Lee a friend. DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS is a novel of many layers. First there's the intricately plotted, detailed mystery. The well developed characters illustrate complex family dynamics, as well as relationships between friends, neighbors, and co-workers. There is no shortage of humor. Several moments had me grinning, if not laughing out loud! Vivien Chien has created a world I want to visit and people I would like to call friends. DIM SUM OF ALL FEARS is a top notch mystery with a wonderful cast of characters. The only problem is that I have a craving for noodles! FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
Murder strikes Asia Village once again, and this time it's hitting Lana Lee hard. On top of that, she's been tasked with running the noodle house while her parents take an impromptu trip to Taiwan, she's still longing for a change in career, and her relationship with Detective Adam Trudeau is not proceeding as smoothly as she'd like - and her amateur sleuthing isn't helping the matter. Dim Sum of All Fears is another deliciously refreshing installment in newcomer Vivien Chien's Noodle Shop Mystery Series, the only problem is once I finished the book I was left hungry and waiting for the next installment! I absolutely enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend this fun cozy. A+++
This was my first book by Vivien Chen and it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed Lana and the folks at Asia Village where her family’s noodle shop is. When Lana’s friend and owner of the souvenir shop next door is found dead along with her husband, she, along with the other workers in Asian Village, are shocked. With her parent’s out of the country and Lana in charge of Ho-Lee Noodle Shop, it’s busy, but Lana and her BFF roomie find time to try and find out what happened and why. Even if her (maybe) boyfriend is the lead detective and asks her not to get involved. This is a great read and I can’t wait to read the first book in the series and to see what the future holds for Lana, Adam, Megan and the Ho-Lee crew!