By Vivien Chien
Restaurant manager Lana Lee has little to worry about aside from planning a romantic getaway with her boyfriend, police detective Adam Trudeau. That simplicity is soon complicated by a devastating explosion at the Asian Night Market in Ohio that leaves a family friend dead and nearly kills Lana in the process. At first the tragedy that destroyed the Wonton on Wheels food truck is believed an accident, but police soon announce the deadly blast was intentional. The tight-knit Asia Village shopping plaza is stunned by the horrific news. Who would want Ronnie Chow dead?
Still recuperating from her proximity to the blast’s concussive force, but egged on by her roommate Megan, Lana begins her own investigation into the deadly act. A number of suspects emerge from the get-go, including the dead man’s own son, Calvin; his wife, Sandra; and the mysterious Uncle Gene. While Lana’s own family is still reeling from Ronnie’s murder, they’re paid an untimely visit by Lana’s Aunt Grace. A travel writer who contrasts sharply with her more conservative sister, Grace immediately puts a strain on the family dynamic, much to Lana’s chagrin. Recurring characters, such as Ho-Lee Noodle House chef, Peter Huang, his mother, and the lovable curmudgeons, the Mahjong Matrons, all play a role in unraveling this latest affair. And, of course, Kikkoman, Lana’s black pug, returns for emotional support as Lana navigates family squabbles, death threats, and the specter of domestic violence.
Funny, warm, and terrifying at times, “Wonton Terror” adds yet another delicious dish to Vivien Chien’s growing menu of enticing, cozy mysteries.