Someone is poisoning diners in New Orleans’ best restaurants. Now it’s up to chef and homicide cop Caleb Rooney to catch a killer set on revenge – a dish best served cold.
After taking on the mammoth task that was Dune, I felt like I needed something a lot shorter and easier to digest. At only 123 pages, James Pattersons Bookshot, Killer Chef, fit the bill perfectly. I do like a good novella to cleanse the palette after a trickier read.
Killer Chef is a part of James Patterson Bookshots series. A collection of short books that are intended as fast-paced, thrillers meant to be read in one sitting. Pitching characters and ideas that might not work as full novels. It’s the first book of Pattersons that I have picked up in this format and it was a decent who-dun-it with an additional bite in its restaurant theme.
The protagonist, Caleb Rooney is not only a Master Chef co-owning a street restaurant business, but he is also a leading Homicide Detective with the local Police Force. Punters line up in order to eat ‘Killer Chefs’ street food but all that is sidetracked when clients in the cities restaurants are seemingly poisoned not long after taking a bite out of their last meal.
The fact that in one of the first scenes of the book Caleb Rooney is running through the streets of New Orleans ripping off his chef apron while on the way to a restaurant to solve a murder sets the tone for the book. Despite its sinister-looking cover, there’s something light-hearted and enjoyable about this read.
Additional to this, I did find the main character to be somewhat incredulous. He is running a street restaurant while doubling as a homicide detective; both full-time careers. On top of this, he seemed to have had or be having a relationship with more than half the other characters in the book. Quite frankly, where does he get the time to do all this!? I like my books to have a dose of realism and while I can accept that someone is murdering restaurant-goers in a grizzly fashion, I found it rather unbelievable that anyone would take on two time-demanding vocations at the same time and not be an utter wreck afterward. Yet, there is a feeling throughout Killer Chef that maybe it’s not a book to be taken too seriously.
Of course, there are wonderful descriptions of everyday occurrences throughout the book; the feelings conveyed, the mystery and suspicions of the main character, and, especially, the sumptuous recounting of food. There’s enough misdirection in the plot to keep the reader loosely guessing who is behind the murders and what their motivations are, but the fun in Killer Chef comes from the tongue-in-cheek language used; there are many subtle puns towards the food and murder orientated theme.
While Caleb has either lusted or is lusting over various female characters in the book – I found this a little odd putting and wondered if his relationship status with each of these characters was really all that important to know – it did add to the novellas nod to the ridiculous. How many male detectives are there out there that have a feminine magnetism? Is Killer Chef pushing the boundaries of this trope in order to expose it?
Killer Chef is an entertaining enough read, light-hearted enough to be enjoyable, with a more serious undertone of a classic whodunit. As the book reached its conclusion the misdirections added another element of tension adds to the already fast-paced short story. A good little ‘filler’ book to get the book count that little bit higher!