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by Peter King

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-24270-0
Publisher: Minotaur

This sixth puzzle takes the Gourmet Detective (A Healthy Place to Die, 2000, etc.) to England’s Harlington Castle, which, for the last ten years, has welcomed paying audiences to its reenactments of medieval times, with fairs, potters, glassblowers, weavers, tournaments, and banquets. Now that the castle offers lodgings as well, Sir Gerald Harlington has hired the food expert to help design authentic period menus. The Gourmet Detective arrives just in time to see a jousting contest between armor-clad knights and to witness one of them collapse and get carted off to the hospital, where he quickly dies of poisoning. Kenny Bryce was a substitute for Sir Gerald’s son Richard, off on a date with a village girl. The detective meets Sir Gerald’s surviving children—his younger son Norman, his daughters Felicity and Angela—and returns to his business, working with Victor Gontier, the castle’s chef. But a phone call from Dr. Evelyn Wyatt, a friend of Sir Gerald’s, takes him to the nearby village, where he finds Dr. Wyatt in her kitchen—dead, poisoned. It appears the poison came from an herb grown in the extensive gardens run by Felicity. Following the banquet that ends the reenactment of the Battle of Moreston Marsh, Felicity invites our hero to visit the castle’s underground torture chambers, where, in case you were wondering, the killer will be unmasked.

The bizarre plot is as complex as the story’s lovingly described recipes, though with no more satisfactory results. Comfort food has never seemed more appetizing.