by Mary Jackman
Take a Toronto restauranteur writing about a Toronto restauranteur, throw in a murder or two, a missing chef, a health inspector and an intriguing cop -- all in the novel, of course -- and you have what is hopefully the start of a new Canadian mystery series.
It takes place in Toronto, always a fun setting for murder and mayhem. She shops in Kensington Market (which is such an atmospheric spot) until the body of her meat supplier is found, her head chef, Daniel Chapin, goes missing, and the restaurant, Walker's Way Bistro is shut down by an over-zealous health inspector. Her bills are mounting but her general manager and good buddy, Rick keeps her sane along with running the place. What's a girl to do but track down her wayward chef, a pursuit that takes Liz to the east coast, Nova Scotia to be exact, and some nice descriptive parts.
Back in TO, Liz continues her sleuthing (despite instructions from the police not to do so) routing up tales of adultery, disgruntled employees, property lust and an industrial sizes freezer just waiting to have someone locked into it. Guess who! Of course, there's a hint of romance brewing between Liz and the handsome Detective Winn.
At times the snappy dialogue seems a bit forced and doesn't quite work but that's no reason not to read and enjoy Spoiled Rotten. Restaurants and cooking are hot stuff on TV these days...it's clever of Jackman to transfer her knowledge of the industry to the pages of a mystery novel. Her characters are memorable. The mystery is plausible. The outlook for this series (which I hope it is), is four star!