July 05, 2022

Death by Bubble Tea

By Jennifer J. Chow
Review by
Death by Bubble Tea is a heartfelt and delicious mystery that, in a brilliant choice by author Jennifer J. Chow, centers on a family-run food stall.
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Jennifer J. Chow kicks off a new culinary cozy series with Death by Bubble Tea, a delicious mystery that centers on a family-run food stall.

After Yale Yee loses her job at the local bookstore, her father talks her into running a food stall for the family’s dim sum restaurant at the inaugural Eastwood Village Night Market. Yale hasn’t worked for Wing Fat in years, not since her mother’s untimely death. Everything about the restaurant reminds Yale of the loss of her mom, but she still agrees to help out, even though it means working with her cousin Celine, whom she hasn’t seen in 20 years.

The women are polar opposites: Celine likes to flaunt her wealth and is a tech-obsessed foodie Instagrammer, and Yale, who doesn’t even own a cellphone, prefers to learn about the world through books. But Yale’s tasty drinks and Celine’s marketing know-how help their food stall, Canai & Chai, find success. Then one night, Yale literally stumbles over a body on her way home from the market. Police believe the victim, local foodie Jordan Chang, was poisoned, possibly by something from Canai & Chai. Yale and Celine are forced to work together again, this time to clear their names in a murder investigation that could also ruin Ba’s business.

Set in west Los Angeles, Death by Bubble Tea takes readers to real locations like the historic Gladstones restaurant and the Lake Shrine Meditation Gardens. Chow’s choice to set the mystery in a night market is a stroke of genius. Not only are there dozens of vendors, guests, witnesses and potential suspects, but the impermanence of the pop-up market makes it even more difficult for Yale, Celine and the police to solve the crime. Also, be warned: Chow’s descriptions of the food vendors’ offerings may make your mouth water. Luckily for readers, she includes a few recipes at the end of the book.

Death by Bubble Tea is a fun, fast-paced mystery, but the heart of the story lies in Yale and Celine’s deepening relationship. Though they grew up in different circumstances on opposite sides of the world, the women learn to trust and rely on each other, finding out what it’s like to have not just a cousin but also a friend.

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Death by Bubble Tea

Death by Bubble Tea

By Jennifer J. Chow
ISBN 9780593336533

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