Cover Image: Hot Pot Murder

Hot Pot Murder

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Member Reviews

📖My Thoughts📖

I always love a good cozy mystery that has cooking in it. This one definitely fits the bill! Thanksgiving is always a crazy busy day, so what better way to start the day, than to throw a murder in the mix! In fact, it kept making me crave some Asian food. The book was fast paced and was very engaging. I loved the characters, especially the main character Yale and her cousin Celine. They make a great team! This was the second book in the L.A. Night Market series, but I followed along with no problems at all. I’m actually excited that I’m only one behind so I can go back and read it and catch up quicker. I’m curious to learn more about all the characters. Fun book, entertaining, and a very quick read that will keep you engaged and eager for more! Grab some Asian American takeout, some bubble tea and your favorite chopsticks and submerge yourself into this fun cozy mystery! 
Thank you Netgalley, Jennifer J. Chow and Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
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I've been trying to get into cozy mysteries, but I think they might just not be my thing; I prefer stronger worldbuilding and less one-dimensional characters. Hot Pot Murder was really promising, but I don't think it was for me.
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Yale and Celine are on the case again. This time, a murder occurs during a meeting of the local Asian American restaurant owners association. While everyone is enjoying a hot pot feast, the president of the association is electrocuted when plugging in a second hot pot.

Of course all the restaurant owners are suspects, and Yale and Celine, even while expanding their own menu for their Night Market stall, dig into the relationships and frustrations the members had with each other. Both young women provide Detective Strauss with important clues, even while wondering why the officer is limiting part of his inquiries. 

Celine also gets a bit of a surprise when her somewhat neglectful parents show up to take her back to Hong Kong, against her wishes.

The story moves along well, and Yale and Celine make for likeable protagonists, and a good team, as their proximity to the suspects allow them to gather information effectively. Yale is still dealing with her grief and its associated triggers, though she makes some further progress in this book at tackling some of it. 

I also found myself getting hungry when Yale cooked, whether for their Night Market stall or to entertain her relatives. I am looking forward to more adventures for the two cousins, and them becoming both even better friends, and better amateur sleuths.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Berkley Publishing Group for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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The dynamic duo are back in action! Yale and Celine Yee are quickly becoming one of my favorite sleuthing teams in the cozy mystery genre. 

"Hot Pot Murder" sizzles with excitement right from page one as Yale and her family assemble for a Thanksgiving hot pot celebration with members of the Asian American Restaurant Owners Association. It doesn't take long for tensions to bubble to the surface, leading to the main entree: murder.

Jennifer J. Chow has whipped up another puzzling whodunit, one that is enhanced by all the great relationships developing in this series. Both timeless and timely, Chow's delightful characters will have you laughing and tearing up within minutes of each other. If you're a fan of cozies or are looking to explore them for the first time, "Hot Pot Murder" is the perfect place to start.
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Thanksgiving dinner takes on a different tone when the celebrants are part of the Asian restaurant business community. More of a meeting of minds, the attendees are not enjoying a traditional turkey dinner. The menu includes a traditional hot pot luncheon and a meeting of the Asian American Restaurant Owners Association, or AAROA. When a deadly accident occurs during the hot pot feast, it soon becomes clear that it was murder.

Yale and her visiting cousin Celine, who happens to be a social influencer, decide to add a bit sleuthing to their food stall business. They need to make sure Ai Ho, a family friend, and Yale’s father are cleared after becoming the prime suspects of the crime. Unfortunately, Celine’s parents arrive from Hong Kong in time for the fallout from the murder. Because Yale’s father is a suspect, they quickly want to swoop in to acquire his share of the family restaurant. This helps spur on the two cousins to find the real murderer.

The Hot Pot Murders is an interesting foray into the workings of family restaurants and a deeper dive into Asian Americans. The plot is solid, revealing the killer in the final chapters. The characters are fully developed and likable (and others hate worthy). But, it made me rather crazy that the main character, Yale, only has a land line, and does not have a cell phone. It may be the character’s quirkiness, but it absolutely is unrealistic. I don’t know anyone under the age of 90 (yes, my 90-year-old aunt texts and calls via cell phone) who doesn’t have a cell phone. This is the first book I have read by Jennifer J. Chow. I recommend it to anyone who loves cozy mysteries.

Jennifer J. Chow is currently serving as Vice President on the national board of Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of the Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America. Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, the first book in her Sassy Cat series, was selected as an Overdrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar Best Summer Beach Read and one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 books by AAPI authors.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publicist and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2023 Laura Hartman
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Cousins Yale and Celine are back.  This time they are trying to solve the murder of the head of the local restaurant owner’s association after he is killed during a hot pot dinner.

Just like in the first book, I love the relationship of the cousins.  They are very different, but are still close.  I really enjoy the themes of family and culture in this series, along with the foods mentioned.

This is a great second book in a series, which I hope continues.  There is a lot of depth to the characters and I’m quite invested in them at this point.
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I was just as intrigued by the many descriptions of food as I was by the murder mystery. There are plenty of suspects, all with some sort of motive, and the stakes are very high. Yale and her cousin Celine are trying figure out who was behind the fatal accident at a restaurant owners association dinner and to make a success of their food stall at the night market. I jumped into this series with the second book and was able to quickly figure out who was who and what was going on, but I definitely want to check out the first book.
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I was so excited to see another book in the L.A. Night Market series. I adored the first book and this one is a charmer as well. Who better to write a culturally diverse book than an Asian American writer? As I was reading, I loved the genuine feel of the book from its setting to its delicious foods. There were so many foods mentioned at the Night Market and restaurants.
Cousins Yale and Celine Yee, one runs a food stall business and the other is from Hong Kong and an influencer. She is always snapping the most appealing food shots, and everyone loves them.
The cousins don't always agree on everything, but they know they had better agree one thing. They're about to become a detective duo after an exclusive dinner invite, they attend ends up with the president of the local restaurant owner's association dead. It seems as though the pool of suspects is wide. Will they be able to sort through all the dinner attendees and find who did it before their friend's restaurant gets closed down?
This book will leave you hungry and there are some very tasting sounding recipes in the back of the book. I am looking forward to reading more foodie cozies involving the cousins and the night market.

Pub Date 06 Jun 2023
I was given a complimentary copy of this book.
All opinions expressed are my own.
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HOT POT MURDER is the second book in the L.A. Night Market series by Jennifer Chow. Once again, the reader is taken for a delicious sensory journey set amongst the backdrop of the L.A. night market scene while trying to solve a puzzling murder. I greatly enjoyed the first book in the series, but with this second book, Ms. Chow has found her stride and the story and the character development is even stronger. Protagonist Yale Yee and her cousin Celine run Yale’s family food stall at the L.A. night market. Early on, they had a contentious relationship but have now bonded after solving a murder. I enjoy how they have their own strengths and weaknesses, which they recognize and use to support each other, whether it’s making the business a success or solving a crime.

There’s also a very strong sense of family and community displayed on the pages. Ms. Chow offers a bit of Chinese customs along with a tantalizing view of Los Angeles settings. I especially enjoyed the visits Yale and Celine make to the local restaurants as they visit the people who were at Yale’s father’s restaurant when tragedy struck. With the strong descriptive voice, the characters and the food jump to life on the pages as the two young women seek answers to the death of the president of the restaurant owners’ association.

Given that the murder takes place during a Thanksgiving gathering at Yale’s father’s restaurant, it resembles a closed room murder. And, because the attendees were colleagues or close friends, Yale and Celine are faced with trying to find clues without alienating the people they know so well. I like how they work in together, asking questions, and listening to gossip, to find justice. As the clues come together, so does the suspense of the killer’s actions. I didn’t suspect the perpetrator and at the reveal, I was on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next. Jennifer Chow’s well-plotted mystery weaves together a story filled with wonderful characters, mouthwatering food, and a fun meander through the tantalizing L.A. night market. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s in store next for Yale and Celine!
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HOT POT MURDER by Jennifer J. Chow
The Second L. A. Night Market Mystery 

Yale Yee was looking forward to a nice Thanksgiving dinner with her father and cousin, but her plans got derailed by the Asian American Restaurant Owners Association. Instead of a quiet turkey dinner with family, everyone's going to Ho's for Hot Pot to brainstorm with members of the association. Before the group even begins to eat, AAROA president Jeffery Vue suffers an immense shock. Detective Strauss believes it's murder and considers Mrs. Ho a good suspect. Confident after recently solving a murder at the Night Market and believing Auntie Ai innocent, Yale and her cousin, Celine, decide to track down the real killer.  

In the second L. A. Night Market Mystery the characters immediately drew me in. I love the dynamics between the older generation and the younger. When another table had to be added to accommodate everyone at the Thanksgiving event I had to laugh as the younger people were relegated to a kids' table. It was fascinating to discover more about Celine's relationship with her parents as well as uncovering more about Yale's grief and fears after the loss of her mother.

The mystery itself was intriguing and I enjoyed how Yale and Celine investigated, playing on each other's strengths and having each other's backs. Suspicious behaviors, police dealings, and association politics make for a fun and intriguing read.

HOT POT MURDER highlights family and relationships while providing a tasty mystery filled with good food.
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Hot Pot Murder: An LA Night Market Mystery
By Jennifer J. Chow
June 2023

Review by Cynthia Chow (no relation but who knows if you go back far enough)

Despite the burst of publicity that resulted after a recent murder in Los Angeles’s Eastwood Villager Night Market, it still wasn’t enough for food booth owner Yale Yee to earn an invitation to the Thanksgiving dinner held by the Asian American Restaurant Owners Association.  Instead she will be a plus-one with her father, owner of the family’s Wing Fat dim sum restaurant. A long-held rivalry between Yale and AAROA member Nikola Ho has the meeting being held not in Wing Fat’s banquet room but at the Ho’s Small Eats Taiwanese restaurant, something that turns out to be fortunate when their president Jeffrey Vue shockingly – rather literally – dies during the middle of the Hot Pot meal.  Yale’s cousin Celine, Ba’s plus-two for the dinner, had been ready to promote the event through her foodstagramming social media accounts, but now she and Yale are more focused on clearing both Ai Ho and Yale’s father of guilt.  Not only did Detective Strauss announce that the electrical wiring had been sabotaged, another fire indicates that someone seems intent on taking the AARO down. Having mended their long estrangement since Celine’s arrival from Hong Kong, Yale also has her hands full with the rebranding that has her running the renamed Canai and Chai food booth to at least include some form of chai.  A fraudulent check implicating Yale’s father has her further invested in the investigation, while Celine must contend with the news that her wealthy and rather judgmental parents are unexpectedly and imminently arriving for a visit.

As they investigate the AAROA members who were at the dinner and had the opportunity to lethally remove the president, Yale and Celine also must contend with their own personal challenges and traumas.  Blaming herself for the car wreck that killed her mother during an errand to pick up chives, Yale has not only been unable to cook with the ingredient – something integral to Chinese cuisine – she has not been back into her childhood home filled with heartbreaking memories.  Yale has slowly been regaining the cooking skills that allow her to share love with her family, but it’s the meals where she eats jook rice porridge breakfasts, cheung fun, and of course the communal hot pot dinners where she truly makes emotional bonds.  Yale even relates personalities to types of dim sum, where the unassuming exteriors often hide exquisite and delicate surprises inside.  

This second in the series will have readers craving an array of Asian treats, many of which have been influenced enough throughout the years to become a blend of cultures and flavors.  While Nik may scoff at xiao long bao’s authenticity as a true dim sum, it’s really the fortune cookie that is the most non-Asian treat that still is expected at the end of every Chinese meal.  What is so compelling about this series and the other books by Jennifer J. Chow is how Asian cultures and traditions are depicted through the Americanized lens.  Celine’s prosperous parents have taken the Westernized names “Sunny” and “Cher,” but they still have a very traditional outlook that demands that their daughter not bring shame while supporting the family businesses.  The threat of immigration investigating Celine’s tourist visa and rivalry between Yale’s father and uncle add to the family drama, which is already simmering with resentment over pride and expectations.  A written Hanzi character and hot oil playing crucial roles in the murder reinforce the uniquely Asian aspects of this novel, making it a very welcome AAPI multicultural entry in the mystery genre.  Even without this welcoming viewpoint, Hot Pot Murder stands on its own as a cleverly plotted, character-driven novel full of mouth-watering descriptions by an author whose work has grown stronger with every new entry.
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Two cousins, Yale and Celine Yee, try to clear Yale’s father and others in their restaurant group of suspicion in the death of a member of the group. 

It’s sad when the duo have to consider as suspects people they have known for a while - other restaurant owners on their street. 

I like the added twist to the plot when Celine’s parents show up from overseas to try to get her to return home. 

Looking forward to the next in the mystery series.
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This was a great sequel in the L.A. Night Market series, it had everything that I enjoyed from the first book. It had a great mystery going on in this book. The characters were everything that I expected and glad it worked overall with the first book. It left me wanting to read more in this series and from the author.
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Yale Yee and her cousin Celine are celebrating Thanksgiving with a local association of Asian restaurant owners.  Since Yale’s father has been a member for years, she knows most of the members, but she’s still surprised at the tensions bubbling beneath the surface at the hot pot celebration.  Then the group’s president dies when he goes to plug in an extension cord.  The police start looking at it as murder, and Yale can’t help but get involved in trying to figure out what really happened.  If it was murder, can she prove it?

I enjoyed meeting Yale and Celine in the first book in this series, and I’m happy to say they were fantastic once again.  Not only does their relationship with each other grow, but they also grow individually, which I enjoyed watching.  While the suspects could be a tad stronger, it’s a minor point, and I enjoyed spending time with the rest of the returning characters.  The mystery is strong with several great twists, and I loved the way the climax played out.  While the majority of the action takes place in a fictional neighborhood in L.A., I enjoyed it when we visited some real parts of the city.  There are also two recipes at the end of the book.  If you are looking for a cozy with a bit of a different setting and strong leads, you need to check out this series.
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Hot Pot Murder is the second book in the LA Night Market series. I love the main characters, cousins Yale and Celine, who are total opposites, but bring out the best in each other. 

When the president of the local restaurant owner’s association dies, Celine wants to figure out what happened once his death is ruled a homicide. There are plenty of red herrings and no shortage of suspects. I was surprised who the murderer turned out to be, although I did suspect this person was up to no good. 

The underlying themes of family and food are once again prominent in this sequel. After reading all the yummy descriptions, I was left craving fan tuan (stuffed sticky rice roll) and youtiao (Chinese doughnut).
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Cozy mysteries come in a variety of styles—with amateur sleuths who can be anything from cupcake bakers to dog walkers. Few series will make you crave Asian cuisine quite like author Jennifer J. Chow’s L.A. Night Market series—though the second installment, Hot Pot Murder, might make you think twice before digging in.

Full review published on and aired on Shelf Discovery
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This was my first introduction to Jennifer J. Chow’s books, but I was interested in the LA Night Market series because of the setting and Asian influences that this series book. As someone who is Asian, I love to discover new authors who explore the Asian culture in their books and this one definitely keeps the Asian culture and food at the forefront of the series.

Since this was my first book by Chow, I didn’t know what to expect. But I thoroughly enjoyed the LA Night Market setting. It created a cool setting, but also introduced a unique community of people. Now I’m excited to learn more about the Night Market and Yale and Celine.

Yale and Celine Yee are cousins, so it was nice to see that dynamic between them. But when a hot pot dinner gets heated and a dead body is found, it’s up to them to figure out what happened. The mystery was fun and interesting, even if it was a bit predictable. I still enjoyed this book and I am definitely considering reading the other books in the series.

HOT POT MURDER definitely exceeded my expectations and I’m now looking forward to the next book in the series!
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Holidays have been more bitter than sweet for night market stall owner Yale Yee since the untimely death of her mother. She’s thus quietly relieved when the Asian American Restaurant Owners Association of her area decides to hold their next dinner meeting on Thanksgiving, giving her a chance to stay busy in a crowd instead of dwelling on her memories. While not yet a member of the organization herself, she’s happy to help her beloved restaurateur dad get everything set up at Ho’s, the Taiwanese restaurant selected for the occasion. Ho’s also happens to belong to Yale's lifelong frenemy Nik Ho and his much less aggravating – to her at least – mother.

While Yale feels most comfortable helping out in the kitchen, her cousin and roommate Celine is thrilled to help decorate the premises, using her keen eye as a social media influencer to compose the most delightfully Instagrammable scenes. Despite some squabbling over memberships and leadership positions, the assembled restaurant owners soon settle down to enjoy a companionable hot pot meal… until association president Jeffrey Vue attempts to plug in another appliance and is fatally electrocuted in the process.

Detective Greyson Strauss, who the Yee cousins had a run-in with earlier in the year, is called to the scene and immediately suspects foul play. Yale has a hard time believing that anyone would want to kill the affable, if somewhat controlling Jeffrey. But as association politics come to the forefront and kindly Mrs Ho becomes prime suspect, Yale must set aside her own disbelief and figure out who could possibly resort to such drastic measures to get rid of their fellow restaurateur.

Complicating matters is the arrival of Celine’s parents, who want her to come back with them to Hong Kong. Celine chafes at being merely the mascot for her parents' various hospitality endeavors, and feels like she’s finally carving out an independent life for herself while visiting with Yale. Will Yale be able to help her cousin with this dilemma, even as they strive to clear Mrs Ho’s name and bring the real killer to justice?

This second installment of the LA Night Market mystery series was even more charming than the first! I adore Celine and Yale’s relationship, and love how they bring out the best in each other. It was also nice to see Yale start to take steps towards reconciling herself to her mother’s death and the role she thinks she played in it. It’s a little weird that she’s willing to throw out so many of her good memories with the bad, but I’m glad that she’s starting to make real and healthy progress.

There was a tasty chai recipe included at the back of this volume, along with this recipe for scallion pancakes and dipping sauce:

Scallion Pancakes
(serves four)

2 cups flour
¾ cup water plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
5 scallions, chopped
Sesame seeds, toasted (as desired)
Oil to cook with (I used avocado oil)

Cover a cutting board with clear plastic wrap.

Combine the flour and the ¾ cup water to form a dough.

Whisk together the 2 tablespoons water and the sesame oil in a small bowl.

Separate the dough into 4 balls. While holding a ball in the palm of your hand, brush it with the oil mixture to coat the ball evenly.

Flatten the ball into a disk on the cutting board.

Flatten the disk into a pancake approximately 6 inches in diameter, and sprinkle on scallions and sesame seeds.

Fold the dough onto itself so the scallions and sesame seeds are on the inside.

Flatten the dough into a pancake again. Repeat for all the dough balls.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to a skillet over medium heat. Cook the pancakes for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Dipping sauce (optional):
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Pinch of chili pepper flakes

Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, and chili pepper flakes until well combined.

Serve in a small bowl with the pancakes.

There are several dishes that my husband is entrusted with preparing instead of me on a day-to-day basis, and one of these is pancakes. I’m notoriously terrible at making them, and was mortified to discover that this propensity extends to scallion pancakes as well. This recipe is quite simple to follow, but I don’t think I flattened my pancakes thinly enough for frying. I also probably kept them on the skillet for too long, as the scallions of my last two were far closer to charred than was optimally delicious.

I’m really good at making dipping sauces, though, and this one came out perfectly! The sauce adds a burst of salty, sour and spicy flavor to the mild pancakes. I highly recommend making it as a flavorful accompaniment.

Next week, we travel to my neck of the woods to whip up a wonderful seafood salad while sorting through a socialite family’s potentially murderous secrets. Do join me!
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This is my favorite cozy mystery series at the moment and I really enjoyed this second installment! I loved revisiting the characters and following along with them on another mystery. While this is a series, I feel like they could be read as stand alones as well. Overall, very charming and fun!
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Cousins Yale and Celine are very different- Yale is focused on the food business and Celine is an influencer- but they band together when the president of the local restaurant association is murdered.  And when Celine's parents (Sonny and Cher!) arrive from Hong Kong demanding that she come home.  In many ways this is standard cozy fare (the mystery is good) but it's also a nice story about family (Yale's struggling with the death of her mom) and food.  So much food! Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  I missed the first book but this was fine as a standalone and now I'm looking forward to the next one.
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