Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/
Sue has been reading The Chef Who Made Ionions Cry by Chilli Kippen
The Chef Who Made Onions Cry: A Goldfarb Adventure is a fun-filled story set onboard a ‘wellness’ cruise with a cast of wonderfully quirky characters. It is the second in a series about Pushkin Goldfarb, a professional gambler from New York, but it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to enjoy this one.
We are introduced to each character chapter by chapter and each one seems more unusual than the last. The chapters are all written in third person POV, occasionally even from the point of view of the pig and also from a mischievous albatross that also travels with the ship.
Chef Armand the titular chef, hails from Marseilles, where he lives alone with only his beloved pet truffle-hunting pig for company. Due to a misunderstanding with the local imam he fears for the life of his pig, which he antagonistically named ‘Arafat’ and decides to bring her on the cruise with him. This is much to the disgust of the other kitchen staff, since this means there is a pig in the galley most of the time while they are preparing food.
We are introduced to ex-psychiatrist turned assassin Major Barbara Cock who has been retained by a mysterious island-dwelling man called Mr Rufus whose spouse, Mrs Rufus just happens to be a dog. He wants Major Cock to kill the mysterious Sheikh Hasim.
“A stocky woman severely dressed but not unattractive with shoulders of a weightlifter.”
Sheikh Hasim travels with his double who he claims to need for security purposes, due to death threats.
“At the Captain’s table, the Saudi reclined, like a pile of freshly washed laundry next to Captain Svensen”
Animal rights groups are threatening the sheikh’s fast food chain due to the unethical manner in which his sheep are transported. It is this animal cruelty which has led to Mr Rufus hiring the assassin.
Gold digger Pamela Lawson-Groves III is also onboard, searching for her next husband and she sets her sights on the sheikh. Unbeknownst to her all of her romantic dealings with him are actually with his double, a penniless out-of-work actor whose desperate state of unemployment led him to undertake plastic surgery in order to take on the role of the sheikh’s double.
We also meet Pushkin Goldfarb, who is there to win big at Blackjack. The previous year (in the previous book in this series) he stole away both one of the sheikh’s wives and also a large amount of his money during a game of Blackjack on a cruise. Goldfarb encounters a bunch of elderly bridge players onboard and decides to teach Blackjack so that he can relieve them of their retirement funds.
Mahmoud is a member of the kitchen staff on the ship and is the nephew of the imam in Marseilles, who has declared a fatwa on the chef’s pig. When Mahmoud finds favour with the chef and is made sous-chef he is faced with a difficult choice – obeying his uncle by carrying out the fatwa and killing the pig he has grown fond of, or a possible glittering career working alongside the pig’s owner.
Mahmoud’s unfriendly uncle the imam has persuaded a congregant, Ahmed to also take a position on board the ship in order to ensure Mahmoud gets rid of his pig nemesis, thus completing the fatwa during the cruise.
The story unfolds with many opportunities for farcical humour. A strawberry birthmark on the left buttock of the sheikh’s double, with the words ‘lick don’t bite’ tattooed below it is the only difference between them. So how is Major Barbara Cock going to find out which sheikh has it? She actually comes up with a good plan but is foiled by the truffle-hunting pig who thinks the double’s discarded underpants smell like a truffle and follows her very sensitive nose into their cabin.
This was a delightfully amusing story, full of unexpected twists and turns. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to be entertained by a quirky cast of entertaining cariacatures and stereotypes and the nonsensical events they get wrapped up in.
An assortment of recipes made using truffles are included at the end of book.
I will be on the lookout for any subsequent ‘Goldfarb Adventures’ and will be recommending this one to family and friends.
As on all cruise ships, the most important person on board the Pacific Belle, apart from the Captain is the Master Chef. It is the quality and yes indeed the quantity of food that makes or breaks a cruise.
The reader is introduced to Master Chef Armand Barrique – twice Michelin starred – dreamt recipes, who is not only a Master Chef but also a man of sensitivity and devoted to his trainee expert truffle-hunter pig. Chef is also central to the plot and his planning and delivery of the spectacular Versailles dinner is a highlight, not only for the cruise guests, but also for the reader.
Our old friend Alexander Pushkin Goldfarb continues his run of luck in the ship’s casino as he observes the foibles of his fellow passengers while new characters such as Major Barbara Cock, a retired army psychiatrist and now assassin for hire, introduce elements of intrigue and revenge and somewhat paradoxically humour and sympathy for her cause.
As in her previous novel, as the plot twists and turns in Ms Kippen’s hilarious and deliberately absurd trademark style, she tackles another important social issue and delivers a powerful blow to the proponents of Live Animal Transportation. The marked contrast of sober descriptions of this cruel practice brings home the message that it must be stopped! Now!