The Gourmet Detective, an ex-chef, so far nameless(Spiced to Death, 1997, etc.), has been hired by famed actor/restaurateur Desmond Lansdowne to take on what appears a delightful mission: to travel to Italy and choose the best chef of the three generally acknowledged as that country’s finest. Lansdowne wants to open what he insists will be the best Italian restaurant in London, and the chosen chef will rule its kitchen. Gourmet, whose ostensible mission will be to gather material for a restaurant guide (Ö la Michelin), is met in Italy by charming Francesca, a friend of Desmond’s who runs an escort service and knows everyone. In Bologna, the two are invited by chef Silvio Pellegrini to visit a mozzarella factory and a buffalo herd at his farm—a visit that ends with Pellegrini’s death in what looks like murder. Gourmet’s life is threatened too—by a man dressed in a monk’s robe as well as by others. Between dissertations on the wines and regional dishes of various areas, there’s a murky plot involving extramarital affairs, legal chicanery, and greedy business deals—most of it near-incomprehensible except to theatrically handsome policeman Captain Carlo Cataldo, who seems to have a grip on the confusing mess. For some, wines and meals to die for. Others may feel a compelling urge to head for the nearest McDonald’s.