Do you like cozy mysteries with plucky heroines, great food, and even better title puns? Then look no further than the Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien! The series stars Lana Lee, a twenty-something woman whose parents own Ho-Lee Noodle House, and who finds herself working in the restaurant after her personal life implodes! She’s drawn into mystery after mystery involving the restaurant scene and the community of shop owners and patrons at Asia Village, the shopping plaza in East Cleveland where the restaurant is located. If you’re wondering where to start with the books so you can read the Noodle Shop Mystery series in order, here’s your guide to murder, noodles, and one savvy amateur sleuth!
In this debut novel, Lana Lee's life has recently gone off the rails. She's broken up with her boyfriend and walked out on her job in a rare dramatic display. Now, the only thing keeping her from homelessness is working at her parents' restaurant in the Asia Village shopping plaza. When Lana delivers a lunch order to Mr. Feng, the owner of Asia Village, and he drops dead, her problems only increase. It turns out that the dumplings in the order were shrimp—and Mr. Feng was allergic to seafood. That's definitely not what he ordered, and everyone at Ho-Lee knew about his allergy. Not one to stand by and watch things unfold, Lana decides to look into why someone might have wanted Mr. Feng dead and how they switched the orders—especially if she wants to clear her family's name!
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Lana is excited for a new job opportunity that will let her leave her family's restaurant behind...but then her parents decide to take a trip to Taiwan, and leave her in charge! It's not exactly what she wants, but Lana is surprised to find that she's actually pretty good at managing the business! But when the husband and wife owners of a new shop next to the Noodle House are found dead, it rattles the Asia Village community. The police suspect a classic case of murder-suicide, but when Lana catches wind of scandalous information about the husband's past, she begins to suspect that perhaps the couple was murdered, and the killer is still at large!
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Much to Lana's surprise, she's now been made the permanent manager of Ho-Lee Noodle House, and she has big plans! She decides to enter the restaurant in a city-wide competition for the best noodles! Winning best noodles in Cleveland could really boost business, but when a food critic receives a threatening fortune cookie before falling dead later in the day, suddenly the stakes are high and the attention has swung back on Lana. Never one to back down from a murder mystery, Lana begins investigating, much to her detective boyfriend's dismay. But when she receives a threatening fortune, she knows that she is close to discovering the truth...and that the killer has her in sights!
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Cleveland's Asian Night Market is the first sign that summer has truly arrived, and Lana can't wait for a successful night and the start of summer—she's even got a getaway with her boyfriend to look forward to. The night market is always good for business, but this year there are even more fun additions to the festivities: food trucks! But terror mars the night when Wonton on Wheels, owned by friends of Lana's parents, explodes and kills one of the proprietors. Ignoring protests from her boyfriend, Lana decides it's up to her to investigate, and the deeper she looks, the more obvious it becomes that this is not just a dreadful, tragic accident or a twisted scheme for insurance money—someone blew up that food truck on purpose. And Lana has just put herself right in the middle of it!
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Lana Lee decides to branch out into catering, but her first off-site event at a dinner party held at Donna Feng's home goes horribly awry—a domestic worker is found dead. Lana is horrified, and naturally, she is pulled into the investigation when Donna entrusts a USB drive shaped like a terra cotta soldier to Lana moments before the police arrive. Lana has tangled with Donna in the past and knows not the underestimate the woman—but what does the drive contain? And why did she choose to give it to Lana? As Lana begins looking into the mystery, traversing between the digital world, the investigation unfolding in her life, and probing Donna's past life in China, she uncovers dark secrets that point to a killer who won't hesitate to strike again!
Related: Ten of the Best Cozy Mystery Novels
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Lana Lee runs her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Village like nobody’s business. When it comes to actual cooking, however, she’s known to be about a step up from boiling rice. So Lana decides to go to culinary school on the sly—and prove that she has what it takes in the kitchen after all. But when course instructor Margo Chan turns up dead after class, Lana suddenly finds herself on the case, frying pan in hand.
Since she was the one who discovered the body, Lana must do double duty in finding the killer and clearing her name. Now, with or without the help of her boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana launches her own investigation into Margo’s life and mysterious death. Doing so leads her on a wild goose chase to and from the culinary school—and all the way back to the Ho-Lee noodle shop, where the guilty party may be closer than Lana thinks.
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Lana Lee’s plate is already plenty full. Running her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Village is challenging on the best of days. But just when Lana thinks she might be able to catch her breath before the weekend—which she’s eager to spend with her equally overworked boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau—Lana witnesses a car accident in the parking lot. And now she has no choice but to get involved.
June Yi, of Yi’s Tea and Bakery, is a serious businesswoman well-known for her heartlessness. But June meets her match when she rear-ends the Cadillac belonging to Mah Jong lover Mildred “Millie” Mao. As each woman curses—and threatens—the other, it becomes clear to Lana that trouble lies ahead. Still, who could have imagined that Millie would end up dead at the beauty salon? The evidence suggests that she was electrocuted while having a foot bath, and all eyes are on June. Can Lana find a way to solve this case before another fatality occurs in Asia Village?
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When Lana Lee’s best friend, Megan Riley, asks her to help host a speed dating contest at Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t see the harm in lending a hand. The night goes better than anticipated, and both Lana and Megan are beyond thrilled with the results. But before they can break out the champagne, Rina Su, fellow Asia Village shop owner and speed dating participant, calls to inform Lana that the date she’s just matched with has been murdered. Under suspicion of foul play, Rina enlists Lana’s help in finding out what really happened that night.
Without hesitation, Lana begins to dig into the man in question. To her dismay, she quickly finds that Rina’s date has a rather unsavory past. There’s a long line of slighted women, angry neighbors, and perturbed co-workers—all of whom seem to have a motive.
As Lana continues to spiral down the treacherous path of scorned lovers and mistreated acquaintances, she can’t help but dwell on how quickly an innocent evening filled with hope and positivity could turn so sour. When the media gets in on the case, Lana must rush to find the killer before more dates turn deadly.
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Tirzah Price is a writer and contributing editor at Book Riot. She loves mysteries, good food, and books that include both of those things. Find her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.