DIM SUM DEAD by Jerrilyn Farmer
A Madeline Bean Culinary Mystery
Avon Books - 2001
ISBN 0380817187 - Paperback
Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Susan McBride, MyShelf.com
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In this fourth Madeline Bean catering mystery by Jerrilyn Farmer, the author truly hits her stride.  Her books are always fun, fast reads, but DIM SUM DEAD reveals, not only a stronger Maddie who’s insightful about who she is and finally goes for what she really wants in a relationship, but also a heightened sense of place and setting, descriptions and characters that are truly vivid and unforgettable. 

When Maddie’s partner, Wesley Westcott unearths an old mah-jongg set from behind a fireplace in the mansion he’s renovating, they discover something hidden in its drawers:  a silver box, a red leather-bound journal and a dagger with a handle carved in the shape of a dragon.  Apparently, the mah-jongg set had once belonged to legendary film star, Dickey McBride, former owner of Wesley’s new digs.  Unfortunately, Maddie and Wes open up their treasure in the middle of the Farmer’s Market for all to see. Minutes after, Maddie is mugged by a strange man who’d been hanging around the chard and the box vanishes.

That night, Mad Bean Events must cater a mah-jongg party at the home of a wealthy and hip director of music videos and commercials named Buster Dubin.  Dubin’s girlfriend happens to be Quita McBride, the young widow of Dickey who wants Maddie to return to her the red book found in the mah-jongg set.  When Maddie explains that the box had been stolen and the journal was missing, Quita seems beside herself.  When Quita is found dead at the bottom of the steps leading up to Dubin’s house by a jogger the next morning, Maggie wonders if it was truly an accident as the police seem to think.  Might the missing red book have something to do with her death?

In the process of trying to get to the bottom of Quita’s mysterious fall, Maddie runs into even more unusual characters, among them Catherine Hill, a Golden Age star in her own right who knew Dickey McBride very well.  Might she have had a reason to want Quita out of the picture?  What secret in Dickey’s past had been worth murder?

The reader will have a ball following Madeline around LA on her merry chase to put together pieces of a puzzle as colorful as painted mah-jongg tiles.  Not only are there plenty of gourmet delicacies to drool over, but intriguing facts about the culture of Chinese food and the game of mah-jongg to digest.  And how can one not root for Mad Bean to finally get the man she deserves?  DIM SUM DEAD makes an appetizing read for any fan of the modern-day cozy.  Jerrilyn Farmer has cooked up another winner. 

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