Roux Morgue
by Claire M. Johnson

Poisoned Pen Press, 2008. ISBN 9781590584873.
Reviewed by Rhonda Esakov
Posted on 04/18/2008

Fiction: Mystery

After nearly ten years of silence from pastry chef Mary Ryan, she springs back to life in the mystery, Roux Morgue, by Claire M. Johnson. Finding the perfect job for an unemployed chef in San Francisco is never easy, but when you've recently been involved with finding murdered bodies, nobody wants to talk to you. When Chef Mary is offered a teaching position at her alma mater, she thinks her financial worries are over and life has taken a turn for the better.

She should have known better. On her first day back to work, she is urged to take sides in a war between old school and modern school chefs when all she wants to do is keep her head down and cook. Then she's surprised by finding her ex-husband's married best friend in her class. Tensions are high everywhere, even with people she thought were her friends. When one of those friends finds murder on the menu and ends up dead, Chef Mary is forced to step in and lend a hand.

Mixed together in this recipe for death are mobsters, high class European chefs with tempers to match, high priced lawyers, former almost-lovers (yes, plural) and hostile friends. Throw in a few sizzling hormones, the pressures of teaching culinary classes to the clueless, mystery fiancés, and sex scandals. Next, stir everything up with Chef Mary's sleuthing skills, and the result is a witty read with quite a few tasty cooking tips thrown in to leave you hungering for more.

Author Clair M. Johnson is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a BA in history as well as a graduate of California Culinary Academy. Having worked as a pastry chef for eight years, she then turned her hand to writing and in 1999 won the Malice Domestic Writer's Grant for her first book in the Chef Mary series, Beat Until Stiff. She shares her home and love for eating out in California with her husband, children and numerous animals and welcomes visitors to her website.

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