Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

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A Healthy Place to Die by Peter King

St. Martin's Press, July 2000.
Hardcover, 256 pages.
ISBN: 0312242697.
Ordering information:

A Healthy Place to Die
by Peter King The Gourmet Detective (we still don't know his name) agrees to take over for a friend at a seminar at a posh resort in Switzerland. A competent chef in his own right, our hero sets about whipping up delicacies for the attendees and enjoying himself. But his assignation with the lovely Kathleen Evans at the Seaweed Forest goes horribly wrong; he finds Kathleen's unconscious body, but then promptly passes out. When he awakens, he is told that she has checked out and flown back to Paris. But when other guests start disappearing, The Gourmet Detective begins to get suspicious. Determined to find out what is going on at the renowned spa, he begins to investigate. But if he's not careful, the Gourmet Detective could be the next course on a menu of murder.

The Gourmet Detective series is an absolute treat for foodies and mystery lovers alike. With a style that is reminiscent of the wonderful Monsieur Pamplemousse series by Michael Bond, Peter King whips up just the perfect mixture of wry wit, delicious food and mysterious doings. If you haven't made the acquaintance of the Gourmet Detective, by all means rush to the bookstore and do so.

--Claire E. White

Little Miss Evil by Lev Raphael

Walker & Co., May 2000.
Hardcover, 184 pages.
ISBN: 0802733425.
Ordering information:

Little Miss Evil
by Lev Raphael Beleaguered rhetoric professor and sometime amateur sleuth Nick Hoffman is trying to come to terms with some rather alarming developments in his life. His partner, Stefan, is sinking into a major depression over his stalled out literary career, and Nick's new office in the bowels of the building is only one step up from the supply closet which, incidentally, has just been remodeled for another out of favor professor. The department is also in an uproar over Camille Cypriani, a bestselling trash novelist who has been handed a lucrative endowed chair at SUM (State University of Michigan). In the midst of the usual scrambling for power, prestige and tenure, Nick starts getting threatening notes, his mailbox is bombed and -- somewhat late in the book -- a murder is committed. If that's not enough, Nick himself is experiencing some rather shocking personal revelations. Luckily, he manages to pull himself together enough to dive into the sleuthing that he does so well. But can he find a murderer before he strikes again?

In this fourth entry in Nick Hoffman series, Lev Raphael does a marvelous job of continuing the character development of Nick and Stefan. There are some major developments in this book, and the passages dealing with Nick's personal crisis are absolutely riveting. Nick, Stefan and all the characters are so vividly described that you might forget you're reading fiction for a moment and think you're reading a very long letter from a good friend about his latest adventure. The humor is fast, funny and loaded with witty pop culture references. Rafael's writing is crisp, assured and always entertaining. Don't miss Little Miss Evil. Highly Recommended.

--Claire E. White

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