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The Chef

Review

The Chef

I will admit that I initially had my doubts about THE CHEF. Detective Caleb Rooney has a sideline business operating a food truck named “Killer Chef” with his salty ex-wife, Marlene. This premise didn’t seem plausible to me, but I figured I’d give the book a shot because 1) it would be set in New Orleans, and 2) it was written by James Patterson, with the able assistance of co-author Max DiLallo. So does it work? Indeed it does, and then some.

THE CHEF begins at mealtime, with Caleb and Marlene busily feeding the masses from their popular truck. However, the focus quickly shifts to Caleb’s public job, where he is in a bit of trouble over accusations that he shot and killed a street gang member in the line of duty. He has a target on his back as far as the remaining gang is concerned and another hung there by his own department. It is the hypocrisy of the latter that sickens Caleb to the point that he resigns. His chief wants him to come back to the force, or at least to help it, because the city is facing a crisis.

"THE CHEF is full of the explosive action that fans of thrillers expect and demand, but it also contains an inside look at the city’s restaurant industry at all levels."

Mardi Gras is approaching, and there are hints that the boisterous, rowdy celebration to come is going to be fatally disrupted by a gang of terrorists with local origins. Caleb, who has lived in New Orleans all his life, remembers when his beloved city was almost destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and is determined that no further damage will occur again on his watch, whether he is a police officer or not. His clandestine investigation quickly runs afoul of the FBI, which regards him as little more than a nuisance. Still, Caleb is determined to expose those who threaten New Orleans, and is shocked when his discoveries lead him back to the restaurant industry he loves.

The book’s heart-stopping conclusion puts Caleb’s life, as well as those of Marlene and his new lover, in danger as he uncovers the source of the threat and attempts to bring it down in a last-ditch effort to save thousands of residents and visitors as Mardi Gras comes to a close.

THE CHEF is full of the explosive action that fans of thrillers expect and demand, but it also contains an inside look at the city’s restaurant industry at all levels. And after the story has ended, Patterson and DiLallo include recipes for some of the dishes that Caleb and Marlene prepare on the Killer Chef truck. Furthermore, they eschew the temptation to limit the setting to the French Quarter. Sure, New Orleans’s best-known neighborhood is prominently featured, but Caleb manages to get into trouble in several other locales around the city as well.

It is an impressive tale that is complete in itself but leaves the possibility open for more stories of the Killer Chef. Let’s hope so.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 1, 2019

The Chef
by James Patterson with Max DiLallo

  • Publication Date: February 18, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316453307
  • ISBN-13: 9780316453301