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Truffled Feathers (2001)

af Nancy Fairbanks

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1391199,452 (3.15)3
Forty-something homemaker Carolyn Blue is through with cooking and cleaning. She has finally decided to throw in the dishtowel - and take on a dream job as a food writer. Now her plate is filled with exotic locales, delectable foods, and even a dash of crime - to taste. She could very well get used to this . . . Being a professor's wife does have its benefits - the CEO of a large pharmaceutical company has invited Carolyn Blue and her husband to the Big Apple for some serious wining and dining. From miso to matzo, Carolyn is anxious to get a true taste of New York. But before she gets a chance to let the fun go to her head and the food go to her waistline, the CEO is dead - keeled over after a heaping helping of pastrami. Talk about high cholesterol.… (mere)
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This promising and potentially enjoyable story unfortunately falls sadly short of expectations. Even to a ‘lay person’ it is clear that the finished product required critical and careful editing and rewriting. I am at a loss to understand how this book was published in its current form. Giving the author the benefit of the doubt, I would suggest it was written to a deadline and then given very little editorial attention. Even on a very basic level, the book contains some clumsily composed sentences that interrupt the flow of the author’s otherwise adept writing style. One might expect this in an unpublished, unrevised manuscript, but not in a published book.

Another reviewer has already commented on the highly unsatisfying ending, in which the police detective simply tells us ‘who dunnit’, over the course of four chapters. This is certainly an anti-climax. There is no action involved, and we are not given any further glimpses of the other characters introduced throughout the novel, although many would appear to have little relevance to the central story. Instead, we follow the main character as she eats and shops in New York. Much more could have been made of the dining experiences, to examine the chief suspects more closely. Instead, much of the action and most of the characters do little to further the story in any way.

One frustrating aspect of the book is the constant switching of narrators between the main character, Carolyn Blue, and her husband. Although we are told each time the narrator changes, the narrative voice and style does not substantially change, so the husband lacks authenticity; he has no voice of his own. Frequently, his narration simply tells us what his wife is doing. Surely, some other device or third person narration could have been used to explain any important events not witnessed by the narrator, Carolyn Blue. All of these things might easily have been improved with some thoughtful editing and rewriting.

The main problem is that the murder mystery, which should be the central story, feels like a subplot. Instead, the main plot seems to be ‘Carolyn Blue’s trip to New York’. Carolyn meets her editor. Carolyn attends an appointment. Carolyn goes out to lunch and orders scallops. Carolyn catches the subway. Carolyn goes to the opera. Carolyn goes shopping for a rug. Carolyn catches a Taxi. Carolyn goes shopping for clothes. It is a credit to the writer that we stick with her through all of this, because Carolyn’s narration is full of her condescending opinions about what constitutes good taste. At the end of the story, we know a lot about Carolyn’s taste in rugs and clothes (and how nice she looks in them), than we do about the murder.

However, I must confess to being irritated by the portrayal of ethnic characters throughout the book. The story starts with a crazy Indian limo driver, more reminiscent of a patronising 1970s caricature than a real Indian person. He is followed by other ‘foreign’ characters, all of whom speak with the kind of clichéd accents one might find in a B grade action film. The final straw, for me, was an astonishing guide to eating in a Japanese restaurant, a newspaper column purportedly written by the main character. I presume this was intended to be amusing. What I can’t tell, is whether the author is poking fun foreigners (again), or at culturally retarded Americans who find the idea of eating Japanese food challenging. Perhaps the latter, as the narrator repeatedly draws our attention to her cultural superiority over dumb waiters (pun intended).

Having looked up the author on the internet, she seems to be a well educated, well travelled sort of person, so I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she is writing particularly for a culturally unsophisticated market. Either way, I can’t help feeling disappointed. ( )
  MrsPlum | Jul 17, 2010 |
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Forty-something homemaker Carolyn Blue is through with cooking and cleaning. She has finally decided to throw in the dishtowel - and take on a dream job as a food writer. Now her plate is filled with exotic locales, delectable foods, and even a dash of crime - to taste. She could very well get used to this . . . Being a professor's wife does have its benefits - the CEO of a large pharmaceutical company has invited Carolyn Blue and her husband to the Big Apple for some serious wining and dining. From miso to matzo, Carolyn is anxious to get a true taste of New York. But before she gets a chance to let the fun go to her head and the food go to her waistline, the CEO is dead - keeled over after a heaping helping of pastrami. Talk about high cholesterol.

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