The unnamed Gourmet Detective is an ex-chef, whodunit buff, and hopeful hero and narrator of a projected series. He makes a living consulting on hard-to-create menus and hard-to-trace ingredients--until drawn into a more practical challenge by a London restaurateur who feels that his operation is being sabotaged. When a hated investigative reporter is murdered at the prestigious Circle of CÉreme dinner--Tartelettes Ö la Dijonnaise, Brouillade d'Oeufs Mystäre, and, for the poison course, eels marinated in Tintulinum botulinum--the Gourmet Detective is fired by his client but tapped for assistance by Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard's ``Food Squad.'' Sleuthing follows in a frenetic but somewhat flavorless round of cocktail-hour flirtation, back-alley spying, and brain-picking under false pretenses. It concludes with a second Circle of CÉreme dinner featuring Asparagus Vinaigrette Mimosa, Nougatine GlacÇe au CafÇ, and a denouement revealing the murderer--a surprise only because, given the author's demi-glacÇ- thin characterization, we may have forgotten meeting him/her before. Cordon Bleu chef/first-novelist King crams his pages with food and fictional allusions, writing like a dedicated hobbyist who, unfortunately, can't be bothered with style. A derivative series idea that falls flat.