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Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves
2014, 278 pages
Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is a humorous whodunnit with frequent, mouth-watering descriptions of Chinese cuisine. Tucker is a senior in college when some unnamed unfortunate event results in his leaving school. At a rest stop in New Hampshire, he meets Corrine Chang, who needs a ride to Buffalo. He takes her by way of his parents’ house in Massachusetts. Over a meal of Dongpo pork, Corrine – and readers – learn that Chinese cooking is Tucker’s passion, and that he’s headed to St. Louis. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I can say that Corrine ends up in St. Louis, too, and readers eventually learn who the diamond thieves are. In between, they learn Tucker’s many rules, such as “Rule No. 11: Timing is everything,” and “Rule No. 45: “Never pass up the opportunity to have dumplings.”
Tucker is a sweetheart, and an interesting character. Besides being the only non-Chinese Chinese chef everywhere he cooks, he’s a martial artist. He can incapacitate bad guys, but Lowry also lets readers see him muse, holding Corrine, “I thought about the pool of warmth around us that seemed like a space that was at the same time very, very small and simultaneously all the room I would ever need or want.” I wouldn’t call this a cozy mystery since there are Chinese gangsters and kitchen staff trading insults. But it’s a gentle one, sweet in a way, romantic and original. Just have snack – or a Chinese take-out menu – handy.