A teen chef detective has murder on his plate in this first book in The Neil Flambé Capers, a delicious blend of mystery, history, and top-notch cuisine.
Neil Flambé is a world-renowned chef and restaurant owner. He’s also a kid. And, in his spare time, Neil uses his super-sensitive nose to help the local police solve mysteries. But when some of the best chefs in town turn up dead, the crime scenes turn culinary.
The cops are stumped, and the only real clues are a mysterious smell and some equally mysterious notes that seem to have something to do with Marco Polo. As more chefs fall prey to the killer, Neil can’t imagine how things can get any worse—until he becomes the prime suspect!
About the Author
Kevin Sylvester is an award-winning writer, illustrator, and broadcaster. His books include the MiNRS trilogy and the Neil Flambé series. He lives in Toronto, Ontario. Visit him at KevinSylvesterBooks.com or on Twitter @KevinArts.
Read an Excerpt
Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders
Neil Flambé stood in his kitchen and took a deep breath.
Was perfection too much to expect? he wondered. He spoke slowly into his phone.
“Gunter, the salmon you sent me is just this side of rotten. I have twenty people expecting a fantastic fish dinner tonight. What they are not expecting is a side dish of FOOD POISONING!” The man on the other end of the call held the receiver away from his ear. He was Gunter Lund, a famous chef in his native Germany before burning out five years ago in a pitched battle with a stubborn batch of bierwurst sausages.
He’d moved to Vancouver to escape the stress and had started his own seafood distribution business. But clients like Flambé made him wonder if it wasn’t time to go back to cooking. He felt a shot of pain in his stomach. His doctor had warned him about stress and ulcers.
It’s not any fourteen-year-old who can talk to me in that tone of voice, he thought.
That was certainly true, but Neil Flambé was not just any fourteen-year-old. He had his own restaurant, his own line of cooking pans, and his picture was on the front cover of the latest issue of CHEF! Magazine, under the headline “Is There Anything This Boy Can’t Cook?”
Neil Flambé was a star.
Another of Flambé’s talents? He could make an ordinary cell phone sound like a megaphone.
“HELLO? GUNTER? Are you still there? I need a different fish!”
Gunter wanted desperately to hang up. Instead he tried another approach. “Neil, please calm down. The man on the boat assured me that he caught the fish this morning.”
“Floating on top of an oil slick?” Neil yelled. “Listen, I have the top food critics from all the major newspapers coming for dinner, as well as the Spanish ambassador. If I serve that toxic fish to my guests, it will KILL THEM!”
“You’re exaggerating, Neil,” Lund said, struggling to stay calm. “It was fine when it left here. And it’s only a few minutes to your restaurant.”
Neil took a loud breath, prepping for another assault on Gunter’s ears.
“But if you insist,” Gunter continued quickly, deciding it was probably best just to give in, “I’ll send over another fish right away.”
There was a short silence.
“You’ll send two,” Neil said firmly.
Gunter paused. His stomach had started to churn, and he knew he’d need to pop another antacid or five when he finally got off the phone. Flambé was one of his best—or at least one of his best-paying—customers. He’d fork over plenty for a good salmon. The only problem was that he was a royal pain in the zielscheibe: the rear end.
Gunter rubbed his finger over his throbbing temple. “Yes, fine, two,” he said. The line clicked and Flambé was gone.
“He doesn’t even say danke schön,” Gunter muttered angrily. He turned in his chair and yelled out the window to his partner Renée, who was sitting on the dock fixing her nets.
“I need two fresh salmon right away!” Gunter shouted. “Still flipping, if you can find any like that.”
He burped. “And bring me some antacids, too.”
What People are Saying About This
"This exuberant culinary mystery has the behind-the-scenes panache of Disney’s Ratatouille and is held together by a kid who is as cocky in the kitchen as Gordon Ramsay (whose blurb graces the cover!).
Fourteen-year-old Neil Flambé is pretty much a failure when it comes to math, chemistry, and art, but he is a genius when applying those subjects to his own recipes at his celebrated Vancouver restaurant. Neil has got a superdeveloped olfactory sense, and the police call him “The Nose” while using him to sniff around crime scenes. The latest call to detect trace evidence involves a series of murders of Vancouver’s top chefs. Neil picks up an exotic chai spice mixture on the dead chefs’ lips and a baffling “something else” that he can’t quite put his nose on. The murders continue, and Neil himself, unable to solve the crimes, becomes the chief suspect. First published in Canada in 2010, this series starter is over-the-top fun and features an intriguing link to Marco Polo’s last voyage."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm in love with this book the best read it please it should be made into a movie!!!!!
This book is crazy, great, mystery, and more. If you like murder mysteries with twists and turns on who is the kill this book is for you.
What could be better than a good mystery? Throw in a pinch of history, a cup of humor, a dash of food knowledge and an obnoxious, yet talented fourteen year old chef and you have a well rounded book. Someone is killing chefs all over Vancouver. The police are stumped so they call in "The Nose", also known as 14 year old Neil Flambe. Neil checks out each crime scene and finds small bits from Marco Polo's journal as well as a smell that even his nose can't figure out. it is up to him to figure out who is killing the famous chefs and why, before he ends up like the rest. This was a very funny book. It keeps the reader laughing and guessing from beginning to end.
Delightfully fun tale for the 9 - 12 set. Lots of excitement, mystery and intrigue and the plot is not overly obvious so it will keep them guessing at who the murderer is. There is also some food and historical education done in such a way that the little buggers won't know they are learning something. Hopefully it will also spark their interest in learning more about Marco Polo or even into cooking itself. My only problem with the book is Neil himself. He really comes across as a know-it-all snotty little brat, that it may turn off some readers. Than again, his parents are atrocious so you could understand how he turned out the way he did. By the end, he has learned some lessons and hopefully in the rest of the series, he will become a little more likeable . Also do not read this on an empty stomach, because you will get seriously hungry while reading. I wish he was real, so I could sample his Pommes de Terre a la Flambe. Ohh, almost forgot to mention, the illustrations are wonderful!3.75 Dewey'sI got this book at the OLA conference last year from Rosalyn Steele at HB Fenn (I think she is with HarperCollins now though) and Kevin Sylvester signed it to Jesse and Jake with a delightful drawing.