A secret-hoarding caterer is frozen to death inside a wealthy client’s walk-in freezer: an English-translation debut that sounds like, but emphatically isn’t, a case for Hercule Poirot.
Nor for any other fictional detective either, since children’s author Posadas begins her story with its ending: The night peerless pastry cook Nestor Chaffino’s natural buoyancy turns to peevishness and finally terror when he finds himself locked inside the cold room at the Lilies, Ernesto Teldi’s house on the Costa del Sol. Instead of unleashing a sleuth, Posadas charts the gravely wacky incidents that led up to Nestor’s final frozen dessert and the secrets he collected along with his prized recipes. Which of them led to his murder? Was it something he knew about the checkered career of Ernesto Teldi before he settled into the safe groove of an art dealer? Or about the suicide years ago of Adela Teldi’s sister Soledad during an intimate visit to her sister and her brother-in-law? Or about the motorcycle death years before that of Eddie Trias, whose grieving sister Chloe survived to become Nestor’s unpaid kitchen hand and his waiter Carlos Garcia’s lover? Or about the incorrigible fondness Ernesto’s friend, the magistrate Serafin Tous, has for beautiful young men? Or about the clairvoyant Madame Longstaffe’s advice to Carlos about how to find his love and her prediction that Nestor didn’t have to worry about the lung cancer he was convinced would kill him? It all sounds very mysterious, but Posadas is writing a pastiche rather than a whodunit, beginning with the twist that the “little indiscretions” Nestor prizes so highly really are cooking secrets rather than his friends’ dirty laundry.
Arch concept humor, deliberately paced yet weirdly discordant—exactly the sort of thing that will appeal to readers who like that sort of thing, as half a million readers in 12 languages reportedly have so far.