CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 27. . . .March 19, 2010
The top chefs of Vancouver's classier restaurants are dying, killed by some unidentifiable poison that leaves them with their faces blue but their lips smiling. The chief of police calls in his expert: The Nose, aka 14-year-old Neil Flambé, chef, restauranteur, sniffer extraordinary, and, incidentally, school boy. What follows is a rambunctious romp through the herd of sacred cows of haute cuisine: the insistence on specifically sourced ingredients, incredibly expensive equipment, jealously guarded recipes, and bitter rivalries. The cooks in question are all relevantly named, from Flambé, himself, through Almond and LeBoeuf (both murdered) to Miss Cinnamon, Neil's home economics teacher who once sent him to the office for asking if the lemon meringue pie was meant to be a dessert or a foot fungus. Tied in with the food-y references are quotations from the diary that Marco Polo kept of his final journey from China to Venice with his load of tea and spices. Snippets from the diary are found at the scenes of all the murders, along with a peculiar scent which even Neil, to his chagrin, cannot identify. Who killed them? And why?
Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders is a giggle from beginning to end. Only food is taken seriously and that only by the chefs and the customers prepared to pay through the nose for a true gastronomic experience. The murders are outrageous, each shedding a new batch of red herrings with which to mislead the reader. It may be a bit sophisticated for your average teenager whose gastonomic heights are likely to be pizza and poutine, but any adult who picks it up will find chuckles and belly laughs on every page.
Mary Thomas works in an elementary school library in Winnipeg, MB, and cooks for enjoyment.
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