Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review of Slow Burn by G.M. Ford (Pan, 1998)

Seattle P.I. Leo Waterman has been appointed by Le Cuisine Internationale to act as a security consultant for their first convention outside of Europe. However, two warring chains of steakhouses seem set to use the event to try and settle their differences. One is intending to open a new restaurant the week on the convention and is threatening to barbecue a prize Angus bull that used to belong to the other chain. Caught in the middle are a restaurant reviewer and the families of the two chain owners. Not long after taking the job, the reviewer is found murdered and, having been discovered in the suite, Waterman is the prime suspect. Using a motley crew of cleaned-up homeless people as his operatives Waterman tries to keep the lid on the antics of the two steakhouses and to track down the real killer.

Slow Burn by title and slow burn in terms of storytelling. Slow Burn is told in an easy going, relaxed style with an undercurrent of gentle humour. The story features a set of larger than life characters and has a good set up. The narrative is workmanlike, with a good flow between scenes. What the story lacks, however, is tension. The story does build towards a climax, but it is without a real sense of urgency. Whilst there is a nice twist with regards to the identity of the killers, the rest of the ending is fairly predictable. Overall, an enjoyable, gently humorous read that lacked a bit of bite.

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