Friday, September 19, 2014

Appearing in issue #38, September 22, 2014

Title:  Recipe for trouble

By Author: Phyllis Whitfield

Tag line:     Someone had apparently cooked up a scheme to eliminate the French chef!

Police characters:   Detective Beth Smart.

The gist:    Det. Smart was interviewing Chef Duval, who looked handsome and immaculate just as he always did on his TV show.  In quite the drama-queen fashion he told her that someone tried to kill him as he worked in his kitchen preparing a dish, claiming they took a shot at him, missed, and hit the mixing bowl.  The detective noted a large bowl had been shattered and lay across the counter, a gooey mixture of milk, eggs, butter and flour appeared to have exploded and dripped from cupboards and countertops.  Chef Duval told the police that Chef Ross, on another network, hated him and was envious of the chef’s fame. Also he noted that his agent recently wanted more money and when he flat out said no she threatened a lawsuit.  When Chef Ross was contacted he did not have an alibi but denied having any involvement.  He said he didn’t own a gun and that Chef Duval’s audience had been shrinking so he (Ross) didn’t have anything to worry about.   The agent told police that she did own a gun but it had been stolen a few weeks ago and she never got around to reporting it.  She denied trying to harm her client.

Detective Smart knew the real story.

Crime scene:    Chef Duval’s TV kitchen set.

Clues:    The mess in the kitchen.

Suspects:   Chef Ross and the agent.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  Chef Duval was immaculate when the police arrived.  He should have been a mess from the splatter of the contents of the bowl.  He shot the bowl himself to get publicity.

My two cents:    I‘m not sure if this was intentional, but Chef Ross said he didn’t own a gun and there was no mention of the police telling him what happened.  That part might have been cut and this little end was left dangling.

I don’t think the fact that the agent wanted more money and was threatening to sue for it is a very believable motive that she might have taken a shot at her talent.  You can’t get more money from a dead guy.  And what would be the purpose of scaring him?  It won’t loosen his grip on his money. 

The tag line was right on once you knew the solution. The title was a bit trite…seen it before in various versions. 

I couldn’t help but picture Chef Ramsey when I read the story although he’s not given to hissy fits.

Not a bad story.  Not a great story.  The author used her space and words well.  The solution wasn’t a whole column.  It did flow well and followed the typical pattern of crime scene description to witness’s stories to solution.  I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  It just didn’t make me say WOW.

Three stars – the motivation was shaky.


Mary Jo said...

Well, I liked this story and would give it at least four stars. You are right about the chef saying he didn't have a gun. I stumbled over that, too. It must have been in the editing. All this because I love watching the cooking show competitions on TV. I even watch some Julia Child now and then if I can find her.

Gordon Ramsay doesn't have "hissy fits" (adult tantrums)? Jody, haven't you seen him on the show where he screams (amid BEEPS!)"It's RAW!!" and "Get out, get out!!" Great stuff.

I got a kick out of your analysis. Keep it up.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. I love Gordon also. But when he has a fit, it's loud and there's lots of cussing and screaming. The chef in this story was sputtering and gasping for breath with his eyes closed, and saying things like "such a dreadful mess". Sissy. I thought maybe he was gay the way he was carrying on, but I've never seen a gay character in a WW story, have you? That would be such fun to write.

Mary Jo said...

It has been a while since I read this story. If he was acting gay, he probably was gay. WW would never acknowledge that, though. Don't ask, don't tell.