Behind the Book: Hot Pot Murder

Welcome to “Behind the Book,” our fun new Chicks on the Case feature! Join us as we Chicks share the real stories behind our stories. Inspiration, motivation, frustration, jubilation–you’ll find them all right here… 

Hello! Jennifer here, and I’m going to talk about HOT POT MURDER–and cooking disasters.

As some of you know, I grew up in a family restaurant. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of cooking mishaps over the years. Things have mainly gone wrong when appliances are involved.

Even way back in elementary school, I managed to create chaos. If I recall correctly, my teacher was trying to make waffles. (This was back in the day when we actually got milk and cookies and naps in kindergarten instead of hefty homework packets.)

Anyway, I was strolling through the classroom and did NOT see that cord snaking out of the waffle machine. Yep, I tripped over it and sprawled to the floor. And I can’t remember if we ever got waffles or not–my mind must have blocked it out.

Sadly, my troubles continued well into my young adult years, where I managed to char our microwave (my roommate was not happy) by overcooking popcorn.

Even as a more mature adult, I’ve managed to make fire–in my toaster oven, by putting taco shells in it. (Do you know that there’s a warning label on those tacos about not doing that very thing?)

So, when it came to Book 2 in my LA Night Market series, I thought: What appliance can I use for the story, and what could go wrong? (Full disclosure: I did manage to kill my own hot pot a few years back. It sizzled and popped–and immediately stopped.)

I figured that a (literally) shocking beginning to Hot Pot Murder would make an excellent means of murder.

What cooking catastrophes have you participated in—or witnessed?


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.


35 thoughts on “Behind the Book: Hot Pot Murder

  1. My kitchen disasters involve boiling water. I’ve walked away and let one tea kettle and one saucepan melt on the stove. Crossing my fingers that I’ve learned that lesson. Hot Pot Murder sounds like good fun!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mary, my college-age sister did that. She put the kettle on then went back downstairs and forgot about it. I walked into the dark kitchen where the only light was the red-hot glow of the kettle. I freaked out. She shrugged.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Cooking disasters – well, there have been a couple of times my gas grill has run out of fuel while I was cooking burgers. The ensuing panic-filled scramble is always fun. That’s why it’s best for me to steer clear of the kitchen! 😄

    Liked by 2 people

    1. JC, in my former life I paid liability claims. One of them was when a gas grill exploded on the balcony of an apt building. Burned the whole thing down. Needless to say, I’ve never owned a gas grill!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. EVERYBODY does! Because they never settled big ticket liability claims. I also had trouble letting my kids on escalators, but you reeeeallllly don’t want to hear that story!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. K, I’m fully throwing my own mother under the bus, but she won’t be reading this so I’m safe. I was a teen, and Mom was making dinner during the summer on a little hibachi grill seated firmly on our picnic table… our wooden picnic table. Our wooden picnic table that is now somehow in flames! She ran to get me, having her pass by not one but two fire extinguishers! She is SO not good in a crisis! Then to top it all off, she was pissed when I sprayed nitrogen and wasted a “perfectly good steak.”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. How many ways can I relate to this post, Jen? My biggest problem with cooking is that, for me, it’s an extended process–I get sidetracked at just about every point. My biggest fear is that I will leave a fork or knife on a plate when I microwave something–or, even more nefarious, a stray piece of tin foil. I am very good at melting rubber-based stuff, which really stinks up your kitchen–and creates the kind of mess that is very difficult to remove. Oh, and those non-stick pans are not, in fact, indestructible. Huge congrats on Hot Pot Murder, Jen–I adore this series!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I bought that fancy natural peanut butter once and didn’t get the foil off completely. I could never get it stirred properly so I popped it in the microwave. That was a fun noise! And not too long ago I was too lazy to bend down and pull out a proper lid for a skillet (I know!!), so I used the plastic cutting board. (I know!!)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Microwaving does work, but just a few secs at a time. And I’m forever using non-lids as lids—plates and my wooden cutting board mostly, which also has char marks, come to think of it. It didn’t melt though!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. When I worked at a Schezwan restaurant back in my twenties, the line cook managed to catch an enormous wok full of cooking oil on fire, which set off the ANSUL fire suppression system. Result: a winter wonderland of white “snow” all over EVERYTHING in the kitchen. Needless to say, we did not open for lunch that day. (Yes, this event made it into the plot of my Sally Solari mystery, A MEASURE OF MURDER.)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jen, I feel so close to you right now! I have started a grease fire in the kitchen a couple of times. And a small fire in the bathroom once involving a curling iron and a hand towel. So far, no one’s been injured!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Putting plastic anything near a hot skillet and it touches and melts all over is the nearest I have gotten to a kitchen catastrophe. Hubby Dearest did somehow have some hot charcoal fall out of the Weber and burn a hole in the deck. Luckily, he was there so it did not burn everything down. I had a friend that almost burned her house down as she had the gas grill right next to the wooden house. If you have a gas grill, have it way away from the house and make sure it is turned off every time and you will be safe. Jennifer, I absolutely loved Death by Bubble Tea and can’t wait for Murder by Hot Pot to come out. I will have to pre-order it. I want more of your funny girls!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jen, your experiences are so understandable: I have tripped and burned popcorn! And have to say, I’m confused about why we should have to worry about putting tacos into the oven…aren’t they supposed to go in there? In any case, CONGRATS on your wonderful new book!! ❤


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