The Chef: Yeah, I hate-read this, but here’s what I liked about it

The Chef book review

What is this about?: Caleb Rooney is a former cop and food truck chef AND he’s about to embark on an investigation into a possible terrorist attack on Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

What else is this about?: Not a whole lot guys, there’s a reason I hate-read this. But New Orelans kind of saved it.


The new stand-alone thriller from the World’s Bestselling Author

Police detective by day, celebrity food truck chef by night, now Caleb Rooney has a new title: Most Wanted.

In the Carnival days leading up Mardi Gras, Detective Caleb Rooney comes under investigation for a murder he is accused of committing in the line of duty–as a Major Crimes detective for the New Orleans Police Department. Has his sideline at the Killer Chef food truck given him a taste for murder? While fighting the charges against him, Rooney makes a pair of unthinkable discoveries. His beloved city is under threat of attack. And these would-be terrorists may be local.

The Chef has potential — I mean look at the blurb.

New Orleans, a food truck chef/cop and meanwhile in my head, I have images of Chef, the movie — which I enjoyed so much, and as I recall, they went to New Orleans too.

So this was a perfect storm of interesting things that grabbed me … and really couldn’t let me go.

So why did I keep going?

New Orleans. 

This is one of those cities that has always had my attention, and I freely admit, I have no real idea of what the reality of life there is like post-Katrina, but books, movies and pop culture have made this city into a magical gem that I need to visit — but really isn’t going to happen any time soon.

So I live vicariously through books like this.

And while I have issues with the plot — more on that later — the city and the food do come to life. The descriptions are luscious and it shows in the care the author takes lingering over the food especially.

And yes, the author does discuss life in the post city post Katrina.

This is however supposed to be a thriller so there’s a plot 

I’ll admit Candice Fox and James Patterson’s goodness in their books made me think this was worth my time, and … it is, and it isn’t. I mean, it’s a straightforward story, and the investigation is an investigation through the rich people in New Orleans in the food industry. 

But then, in the middle of it, there’s a romance — and it’s clumsy and eye-rollingly badly written. Caleb is Vanessa’s saviour, and she is pretty much there to be a love interest and nothing else. The far more interesting character is Marlene, the ex wife with whom he runs Killer Chef — the food truck. How did they come to be partners in this? How did they meet? Why did they break up?

Then there’s Caleb: he’s our astute chef and police officer, who stumbles on to everything and anything that he needs, and has a quip ready. I feel like he’s supposed to be an old-school character, filled with charming swagger that you might roll your eyes at, but let pass by because of that charm.

It carried me through much of this book, but all of this isn’t enough to stop me from feeling exhausted by the end and just wanting to hear more about the city. 

On the upside, it kind of settled me down as I have been jumping from book to book unable to settle on something. There you go lol — what’s the weirdest thing that settled you down in terms of your reading? 


  • Ugh… if there’s something I hate it is when a romance pops up and the love interest is just there for that and nothing else.

  • Jen Mullen says:

    Same, same on the romance bit. But…New Orleans is such a fascinating city that I can see that it might tilt the experience.

  • Ethan says:

    I may have to read this for the setting alone, but I agree that Patterson novels can be pretty clumsy.

    • Verushka says:

      YES! I am a hardcore fan of his ones with Candice Fox, but I don’t know if I want to give any others a go after this. (The love for the setting in this book is palpable. Totally kept me going.

  • Lily says:

    Can people stop throwing in useless eye rolling cringy romances in thrillers? Like.. it’s not needed.

  • Kelly says:

    I haven’t read anything by Patterson before but his Patterson Presents series is amazing! This sounds as though it had a lot of potential but sounds a little on the lazy side. I don’t know if there comes a point where authors become so big that they can publish mediocre books with massive fanfare and sales rest on their good name but they could have done so much more. I’m glad you were able to eventually engage with it and pulled you out of a slump. Wonderful review Verushka!

    • Verushka says:

      I am a hardcore fan of his books with Candice Fox. I wait for those on pins and needles, but man these other ones? I am going to have to take a break from them for a bit. From other comments I’ve read about his work with co-authors, what you described is pretty much what people generally think of novels like this. I will say, the love for New Orleans and it’s people? Just shone through in this. I do need to check out his Patterson Presents series though.

  • I always love your hate-read reviews, lol. I’m always so hit or miss when it comes to Patterson’s books. I think New Orleans would have been the main draw for me as well. There’s just something about that city that always fascinates me.

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