A Wicked Welcome to Jennifer J. Chow! *giveaway*

by Julie, looking at water and feeling inspired

I am delighted to welcome Jennifer J. Chow back to the blog today! The first book in Jen’s Night Market Mysteries; Death By Bubble Tea was nominated for an Agatha and Lefty award this year, and has also been nominated for an Anthony award. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, and am thrilled she stopped by to talk about it.

Six Degrees of Dad 

By Jennifer J. Chow

tureen of soup

My newest book, Hot Pot Murder, features a small group named AAROA (Asian American Restaurant Owners Association). They happily gather together for a hot pot dinner—only to have one of the diners die at the meal. 

Growing up, we owned a family restaurant specializing in Chinese cuisine. We did not have any diners fall dead (thankfully) during our tenure. And although we didn’t have an AAROA, my dad was the Kevin Bacon of the community of Chinese restaurateurs. Six degrees of separation, for sure. Want evidence?

Jen playing a Chinese zither

1. Previous restaurant owner 

We actually bought our family restaurant from the previous owner, whom we called Uncle Joe (no actual relation). I even remember going to his house. There, I got to admire (and play!) a Chinese zither.

2. Local wait staff

My dad knew when establishments were looking for extra servers, and he helped people get positions. He’d also been the recipient of similar kindnesses when he was a waiter, learning about jobs from friends (or friends of friends). When younger, he worked at multiple restaurants—even commuting back and forth for three hours for one eatery. 

3. Bean sprouts king

bean sprouts

A family friend was the local purveyor of bean sprouts. Seriously, he was the Bean Sprouts King in the area. I remember helping sort through our restaurant’s invoices and wishing I had a company named after me. (Does being an author count?) 

4. Grocery store proprietor

Sadly, Asian grocery stores were few and far between where I grew up. But we did have one shop close to our restaurant. Of course, my dad knew the owner. Bonus: I got to score a free coconut drink whenever I visited. 

5. Other Chinese restaurateurs

Dad knew all the other restaurant owners in town. I remember going to one place with my buddy, thinking we’d found a new establishment. When I told my dad, I realized he knew the owner by full name—and proceeded to provide me with their entire backstory.

6. Extended relatives

When my mom’s relatives immigrated over, they also went into the food industry. (Unfortunately, there weren’t many other opportunities for them.) Eventually, they opened up their own restaurant. Now maybe they’ll become the new six-degrees-of-separation people.

I rest my case. 

Do you know someone who’s the central hub of a group or community? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll randomly select a name for a giveaway.


Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty Award-nominated author Jennifer J. Chow writes the L.A. Night Market Mysteries; Death By Bubble Tea was in The New York Times Book Review and hit the SoCal Indie Bestseller List. She belongs to Crime Writers of Color and currently serves as President of Sisters in Crime. 


Facebook and Instagram @jenjchow


cover of HOT POT MURDER by Jennifer J. Chow

Trouble is brewing for cousins Yale and Celine Yee after a hot pot dinner gets overheated and ends in murder in this second novel of the L.A. Night Market series by Jennifer J. Chow.

Yale and Celine Yee’s food stall business is going so well that they’ve been invited to join an exclusive dinner with the local restaurant owners association. The members gather together for a relaxing hot pot feast…until Jeffery Vue, president of the group, receives a literal shock to his system and dies. 

Everyone at the meal is a suspect, but the authorities are homing in on family friend Ai Ho, owner of the restaurant where Jeffery was killed—and Yale’s dad is a close second on their list. Yale and Celine step up to the plate and investigate the dinner attendees: the association’s ambitious VP, a familiar frenemy, a ramen king, a snacks shopkeeper, and a second-generation restaurateur. It’s up to the detecting duo to figure out what really happened before their friends and family have to close their businesses for good.


53 Thoughts

  1. I love hearing this about your dad. No, I don’t know anyone, or at least I can’t remember a person. Congratulations on your book release.

  2. Jennifer, congratulations on the new book and welcome back to the blog! I must catch up with this series. How lovely to share all those stories about your dad and the people he knew. Can you remind this Pasadena native where you lived and ate? And is one of those lovelies on the zither you? (Pic too small to tell.)

    There was a woman, Rosie, in my town when I moved here 11 years ago, who was always contributing to the beauty and goodwill of the town. She decorated the public gazebo and town hall seasonally and made sure the pop-up shop offering free prom dresses every spring had a place (and funds) to operate, plus so many more good deeds. She was bigger than life in stature, always dressed well, and had a big smile and a deep laugh for anyone. Her husband wanted to move to Florida and she went with him, but Amesbury misses her.

    1. Hi, Edith! I grew up in central California, but I’m currently in the L.A. area (near the beach). Unfortunately, I’m not playing the zither in that pic–couldn’t figure it out!

      And Rosie sounds like a wonderful person!

  3. Your father sounds like a wonderful community leader! We have a local lady here named Pat, who is a realtor plus created a Secret Angel program for the town, that helps provide families with help. She also created a community closet at the high school for those teens that couch surf which we help fill with personal hygiene items, snacks, backpacks, etc. She’s a very special lady in our community!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Kathy! Love learning about how Pat gives back to the community!

      (I once got to deliver gifts to families who needed them, and it was a moving experience.)

  4. Congratulations on the new book! Your dad sounds like an amazing person. My husband is at the hub of a community of journalists. The Professor has taught at our state university for almost 20 years and has former students in newsrooms across the country — and even the globe — and they still come to him for advice. It’s not unusual for me to hear his phone beeping with a late-night text from someone who has a problem, and for him to wake up and spend an hour or so “talking” it out.

  5. Happy book birthday!
    I do not, or at least cannot think of anyone like this in any of the communities I have lived.

  6. Yes. Joan’s humor and resources turned a dusty little town into a mecca for top Western artists. Her reign extended over decades until time took its toll on her life. We miss her!

  7. Congrats! I don’t know of anyone in my community who is a central figure.

  8. Congratulations on the release of “Hot Pot Murder”! Sounds fabulous and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it.

    As for the person in the know, in my childhood that would have been me. I know it sounds crazy to say that about a kid, but you just have to understand the situations to agree. I was an Army brat. You know where you move constantly and there wasn’t such a thing of going all the way through school with the same kids. Shoot you might be doing good to have kids in your class the following year that you knew. Well, my Dad wrangled a stint of being on stabilized assignment meaning we stayed in one spot – Fort Ord, CA to be exact – for NINE years. Meaning that just about all my elementary and junior high school years we lived in one spot. Definitely not your typical military life. During that time and especially in junior high, my nickname was Mom. Everyone thought if you needed to know something from activities to the know about a certain teacher, they came to me. So it was a real downer when my Dad retired and moved us to civilian life just as I was going into high school. As an adult, I have been very happy to blend in and let someone else be that person.

    My married life up until 7 years ago, I’d say that person would be my husband. Due to his many job responsibilities, he knew everyone from the governor, city officials to just about everyone in not only our town but several towns around us. He has never met a stranger and can talk easily on just about any topic whether it was with a high official or someone with a gripe or problem. He is the type of person that if he doesn’t know the answer, he will find it. He absorbs facts and loves learning something new. He was the one called upon to smooth feathers in a dispute or enlighten someone else of what’s allowed or proper. In short loved by all that meets him as well as respected. When he retired, he had the largest group of folks from the full spectrum in different walks of life come to his retirement party. Afterwards, we moved here to our dream destination and he’s well on his way of being that person again in our new location.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  9. Congrats on the book release, Jen. How fun to have a dad right in the middle of things.

    I don’t know if it’s the same, but I used to work with a guy who, no matter where we went, always met someone he knew when we left the office. Either from a past job or from his school district…something. At one point I joked with him that he must know just about everybody in Pittsburgh!

  10. Congratulations on your new release! One of our dearest friends is the hub of our theater/radio drama community. He’s the one who knows everybody, knows how everybody is doing, and the one who’s backyard is the gathering place in summer.

  11. Welcome back! I loved Death By Bubble Tea and look forward to this one! And I love this post so much–thanks for the background!

  12. Congratulations on your second awesome mystery, Jennifer! It is so nice of you to share so much about you and your background! I read and reviewed it a while ago, and promised myself I would read the first one, because your writing and the plots are great! Well, I still have not accomplished that pleasure, as I have about 4 more books that I am reading and need to review. I definitely love Chinese foods, and spend lots of time at night markets in Asia, and love food markets. I even have a diploma for a cooking class my wife and I took in Cambodia 🙂 I know a wonderful lady who heads the Women’s Resource Center for unwed mothers in our town. She does wonders for so many, and is also a pastor’s wife. My wife and I support her and the organization by donating parts of our ladies’ vintage hat collection for their annual tea. Please continue to write more Yale and Celine mysteries!!! Luis at ole dot travel

    1. You’re too kind, Luis! And congrats on your diploma!

      Love how you support that wonderful lady in your community–and that you have a vintage hat collection!

  13. Hi Jennifer, your latest sounds wonderful. Looking forward to reading it. Mega congratulations on your success!

    We had a lady in Florida who was the key mover and shaker in all things concerning the arts. This wonderful woman was one of the founders of Miami City Ballet, gave tirelessly of her time, energy, and money to any multiple arts groups, and was the well deserved recipient of many civic awards. Best news – her daughter has followed in her footsteps. Quite the legacy.

    1. Thanks, Kait!

      Love the generations of influence. We have a band director here who’s followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather–amazing!

  14. Congratulations on your release. I have known a very busy, productive and especially interesting woman whose interests are many and whose help has made a huge difference in their lives. She is thoughtful and kindhearted and lends a hand at schools, churches and gives of herself. So involved and happy. I am amazed with her energy and stamina.

  15. I love the hole idea of your new book. I can’t wait to finish the first one and dive into this one.

  16. I’m looking forward to reading your books. My TBR pile just keeps growing, but I definitely want to move yours far higher up in the pile. I don’t know anyone who fits your description. I wish I did. I did a little of this when we lived in a very small town, but it was hard to get much cooperation in a apathetic community.

  17. Hi Jen. I love the title Hot Pot Murder. I know several people who are “connectors.” (Some professionally like recruiters.) I am thinking in particular of one former work colleague who is at the center of the Venn diagram of several circles of friends and former co-workers. She also has an uncanny ability to run into celebrities. So much so that when I saw a celebrity at a museum over Memorial Day weekend, I thought. “I must tell Lisa! I wonder who she ran into today.”

    1. Thanks, Barb! (So glad the publisher liked my title!)

      This reminds me to make Venn diagrams of the people in my life (and my characters). What a fun work colleague you have–and you get to rub shoulders with celebrities!

  18. congratulations on the book. I also thought it would be fun to be from a family that was so connected to community.

  19. Three cheers to you on the new release, Jen! I love this story about your dad. We lovingly call our next door neighbor the Mayor of Sharon Road. She knows everyone on the street and looks out for everyone in good ways!

  20. I did know a community leader where I lived in Chicago on my neighborhood street there was a grocer. His name was Pete a Polish man who held great pride in his grocery store. I knew his two children and ever worked behind the candy counter straightening and adding candy as needed. It was so fun for a child to do and bonus I got to have some free candy.

  21. Within the last year, The Blossom Market Hall in San Gabriel, California, has become a hup not only foodies but a gathering place for locals and beyond. It is owned by Asian Americans, Chris & Nellie. Since opening a year and a half ago, the area is having a resurgence. It is next to the historic Mission Playhouse and the newly refurbished (due to a fire) Mission San Gabriel. Because of Blossom’s popularity, new businesses are popping up all around them.

  22. Congratulations on your new release! My Dad was the type of person that knew everyone and was everybody’s friend.

  23. In my 20’s I remember my parents being heavily involved in a Latin American club. They put together many Latin American themed activities. I remember going to some of the Latin American dances. There was always dancing and food.

  24. Not anymore. When I was younger, my Mom was very active in a lot of community and school functions. When I started working, I had a job in a Community Development Corporation that received city funds. Now that I am disabled, I do not have any contacts anymore. Thank you so much for sharing. Happy book birthday. God bless you.

  25. Congratulations on your book! It sounds interesting! I don’t know of any community leaders in my town. Not sure of any growing up that I can think of.

    Thanks for the chance!

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