CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 37. . . .May 25, 2012
Fifteen-year-old chef prodigy Neil Flambé, appearing here in his third book, is re-opening his restaurant when he discovers an intricate diabolical plot to destroy his career, beginning with sabotage to his air conditioner and silverware to make his food taste and smell horrible. Neil is confronted with a cooking duel with an old rival, the computer Deep Blue Cheese, which he wins, only to discover the plot is part of sinister curse that has plagued Flambé chefs for centuries. He then travels to Paris to discover the real force behind the curse, the industrialist Valette family, who are determined to make Neil fail. The final climax sees Neil, his cousin Larry, his girlfriend Isabella and her bodyguard, and a chef named Jean-Claude Chili, all racing against time to prevent Jeanne Valette from blowing up the La Défense skyscaper to which she has lured Neil.
A twisting, complicated, funny, and inventive story, The Crusader's Curse takes the fantastical story of a top world chef, running his own restaurant at age 15, and delves into his family's roots as chefs since the Middle Ages, victims of a curse laid on them by an Order of Crusaders avenging Pierre Flambé's smuggling of food into an "infidel" fortress to save starving Muslims. The book features excerpts from diaries and letters from various cursed family members, all tied to a book of recipes that shows up in Neil's life and is the first clue to the family curse. The history is compelling, as is Flambé's constant references to good food as both his mission in life and his means of combating the forces trying to take him down. Neil's struggle to cook the best meal of his life in the duel against DBC is particularly convincing.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.