Friday, 4 October 2013

Who Is Killing The Great Chefs Of Europe?

First things first. I have neither read the book I purchased four years ago nor seen the film I read about subsequently. I found this book in a cupboard while looking for some other book and couldn't wait to write about it. 


Originally published as Someone Is Killing The Great Chefs of Europe, 1976, this 239-page novel by Nan and Ivan Lyons is a comic-murder mystery. Someone is killing Europe’s most famous chefs "in a manner that reflects their most famous dishes." For instance, the lobster chef is drowned. Even more intriguing is that the recipe for each dish is given in the book. 

This is what the back cover of my 1979 Coronet edition (above right) says, “While the world’s sexiest cook prepares her ‘Bombe Richelieu’ for dessert at Buckingham Palace, a connoisseur criminal who makes Jack the Ripper seem like a vulgar amateur is serving up the bloodiest master-caper ever conceived. An outrageous mixture of liberated pleasure and gourmet violence sizzling with surprise-a-page suspense…”

And here are the first lines of the book: “Lacquered to perfection. Crisp skin. Warm moist pancakes. Spring onions and sweet bean sauce. Yes. If he were to leave London immediately, within eighteen hours he could be in Peking.”


In 1978, Ted Kotcheff (of First Blood fame) made a film starring George Segal, Jacqueline Bisset, and Robert Morley. It had music by Henry Mancini. The film was released as Too Many Chefs in the UK.

Have you read the book or seen the film?



For actual reviews of Forgotten Books this Friday, go to Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase.

14 comments:

  1. I haven't read or seen it but I know about it. Apparently it was very big at its time.

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    1. Charles, I read online that it was popular in its time and I think the movie is what made the book famous.

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  2. I remember quite liking the movie but attributed the cleverness of the story to Peter Stone, a smart screenwriter responsible for the likes of CHARADE for instance - I'll look out for the book though to see how they compare - thanks Prashant.

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    1. Sergio, you're welcome. I wanted to place this book on record. I'll read it eventually. I'm not even remotely familiar with screenwriters and their films and wouldn't quite know how to analyse films the way you do.

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  3. Hmmm....never heard of either I'm afraid Prashant.

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    1. Col, I remember picking up the secondhand novel out of curiosity. I have a few books like that and I need to get down to reading them.

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  4. My husband reminded me that he and I saw the movie in the theaters when it first came out. I don't remember it at all but that was a long time ago. He had not remembered that Peter Stone was the screenwriter, so thanks to Sergio for that information. I wonder if the book is any good? I could do a book to movie post if it was... someday.

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    1. Tracy, I have flipped through the book. It is written well and seems quite entertaining. Now that I have written about the book, I'm not sure I'll be reviewing it later. I hope you get to read the book and watch the film so that I can read your combined book-to-movie post.

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  5. Yes, I did both. I remember and enjoyed the movie better. Robert Morley is the best thing about the movie though Segal and Bissett have very nice chemistry.

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    1. John, the stills from the movie indicate that it is a mystery laced with humour. I hope to read the book first and see the film as well. I have heard of Robert Morley though I don't know where.

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  6. Like John, I liked the movie better, too. Peter Stone may have been the difference.

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    1. George, I'm not wise to a film's script and how it makes a movie look good or bad, but I'm going to see this film and pick up something of the art of screenwriting.

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  7. Never read the book or seen the movie, though I'm not normally a fan of mystery humor.

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    1. Ryan, I don't remember reading many "mystery humour" books either, unless we are talking about Wodehouse. I think it would have to be written really well to pull it off and convince readers.

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