Claire M. Johnson
Poisoned Pen, Apr 2008, $24.95
In San Francisco when pastry chef Mary Ryan joined the faculty at her alumni École d'Epicure she was unaware of the internal cold war between the "dinosaurs" and the "young brats". However she plans to avoid the politics by staying neutral as she assumes that should prove easy to achieve.
To her chagrin SFPD Homicide Inspector O'Connor is one of her students. He insists he is on medical leave due to stress, but she fears her stress will go to the sky as she and the married partner of her ex-husband Jim are attracted to one another. Tension escalates between the two cooking blocs as hostilities turn feral when a water fight ignites. Both armed camps demand Mary choose. However, things turn ugly when Chef Allison dies suspiciously; another death follows. Putting on her Nancy Drew hat, Mary investigates death by food poisoning and other culinary murder techniques.
It has been quite a while since Mary starred in BEAT UNTIL STIFF, but the wait for her second culinary cozy is well worth it. The story line is a lighthearted amusing romp as readers obtain a look at the politics of cooking. Mary is a wonderful heroine who wants to stay out of the holy war, but each side insists she commits to them or she belongs to the enemy camp. Fans will appreciate Claire M. Johnson’s superb war of the chefs’ murder mystery.