Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Turn Up the Heat-Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant

Turn Up the Heat
Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant
Berkley, Mar 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780425219478

Chloe Carter is preparing for her grad school exams and writing papers for her classes as she pursues a Masters degree in Social Work. She chose this subject in order to earn her inheritance from her late uncle who added caveats to his will. Chloe believes to her shock that she will be a good social worker because she likes helping people. She only wishes that her boyfriend Josh, the executive chef at his Bostonian restaurant Simmer was not working 12-14 hour shifts as she would like to spend more time with him.

One day Chloe visits Josh at Simmers only to find the corpse of waitress Leandra in the back of Owen’s fish truck. Apparently she was strangled by the strings of her apron. Owen is engaged to Chloe’s pregnant best friend Adrianna; she also knows him well enough to believe he is not a killer. However, the police label Owen as a person of interest because he lied about his accounts, the restaurants where he had them, and that he bought the camping truck when he told everyone it belonged to the company. Chloe theorizes who the killer is and almost becomes the next person on ice.

This is an excellent creative mystery due in part to the eccentric support cast that enhances the story line with an insider’s look at the kitchen of an upscale restaurant. The protagonist is a bright energetic person who treats her lover the way she wants him to treat her. Josh shows his feelings to Chloe every chance he gets, which endears him to the audience. At times poignant, while at other times humorous, TURN UP THE HEAT is a terrific whodunit repast.

Harriet Klausner