Killer Chef: A BookShot, by James Patterson and Jeffrey J. Keyes

Eight stars

In their first BookShot partnership, James Patterson and Jeffrey J. Keyes create the basis for what could be an excellent new series, even if it does not go further than a collection of short stories. Caleb Rooney is local celebrity in New Orleans, best known for his food truck, ‘Killer Chef’. People will line up all down Bourbon Street just to get their hands on a po’ boy (I guess that’s some Southern delicacy?!) and Instagram to tell about it. However, under this greasy apron and rubber crocs is his other persona, Homicide Detective Caleb Rooney of the NOPD. Called to the scene of a popular restaurant, Rooney begins by surveying the scene, where he discovers that two patrons have been poisoned. The owner of the establishment is an old flame, which provides a moment of awkwardness, but not as much as the realisation that she is unsure who might be behind these murders. Checking some of the CCTV footage, Rooney surmises that it must be someone on staff, though nothing is clear as of yet and it was only these two patrons who died. While he is out fighting crime, Rooney has left the Killer Chef in the capable hands of his co-owner and ex-wife, Marlene. His extended absences has left their strong platonic connection strained and puts the future of the Killer Chef and its reputation in jeopardy. When another call comes, Rooney rushes off to find two more patrons murdered at another establishment, again poisoned. It is only when Rooney checks out some footage and compares it to the first scene that a suspect emerges, one that is seen taking photos of the food truck during one of Killer Chef’s busiest nights. Rooney rushes to make an arrest, but also discovers a common denominator between a number of the victims, outside of their love for good food. What looks like a quick solution turns into something more complex than creating the perfect soufflé. Patterson and Keyes have a wonderful mystery here and I am sure fans will be begging for more to come. 

BookShots are surely a hit-or-miss endeavour, with a number of collaborations touching on many subjects. Patterson pairs himself with a number of up and coming (or established) authors and seeks to churn out successful pieces, though their success really cannot be predicted one publication to the next. While I read another BookShot the other day that was a complete flop for me, this one jumped out and shook me; only furthering my belief that there is much to these short pieces. Patterson and Keyes use some great characters that have some curious backstories, leaving some areas to the imagination, while setting the mystery in the lively city of New Orleans. There is so much to do and see down South, and the door is wide open for another wonderful mystery with a strong culinary focus. Rooney plays the double role so effectively that I would love to see more of him, even in a full-length novel, as it would permit some added development to the characters whose lives cross at various times. If not, a series of BookShots would be effective, as some authors have been able to do with Patterson. This is sure to be one story that makes the rounds and receives lip service for its delectable content.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Keyes for the wonderful initial partnership. I hope to see your collaborative juices simmering again soon in another great story.