Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unsavory Delicacies by Russell Brooks

This book is a series of short stories full of suspense centered in either eating establishments or using food as a cover. An anthology of interesting and yet refined reading, Russell Brooks brings you a short novella that packs just enough punch to keep you looking for more. His protagonist shows up in several of the stories, but it is the suspense that ties them together. The individual stories are bundled together under the title of Unsavory Delicacies.

In Crème Brule, Brooks has used a dining experience to introduce his characters. Monique Beauvais is a beautiful young woman willing to use her looks to get what she wants. Working for the Arms of Ares she is more than willing to set up her date, collect the money and mark him for termination. As she completes the deal, she leaves him at the restaurant and as she walks away hears the rifle shot killing her patsy. However, everything is not as it seems. Her contact, Curtis, is not who she believed him to be, and everything she believes has just taken a turn. Her life now in danger and her cover blown, can she finalize the contract for her employers?

Things are not what they seem and Monique is taken aback at her naivety, believing and trusting in her ability to pull a swindle, she is trapped. Having always used her beauty to get what she needed she is at a loss when it is no long enough. Curtis too has his secrets, he is undercover and on to her tricks but will do what it takes to make sure she does not get her way. This is an interesting quick read with a twist to the ending.

In To the Last Bite, Russell Brooks brings us a bit of a creepy suspense, about a food critic. Dennis Kirby makes a living by giving terrible reviews to the restaurants he visits. Occasionally he will give a good review but the bad ones are the fodder that keeps his readers coming back. When he finds a French restaurant with food that he find quite palatable he is impressed. The owner is sweating bullets hoping to receive a rave review, and Dennis assures him he will receive it.

Even after leaving the restaurant, the food stays with him, but something is familiar to him about the owner. He cannot quite put his finger on it but it is there. Maybe he had seen him somewhere before but he is not sure. Calling his girlfriend, he again cannot reach her and begins to worry. He has been trying to reach her now for some time; she is always available so he is concerned.

After his eating experience at the French restaurant, he also finds that other food is not quite as good, but he is understandably surprised with the chef show up at his home with another meal. Something is not quite right, but the horror that unfolds will be so unexpected you will not see it coming.

This is a quick and quirky story with a somewhat creepy undertone. Brooks’ characters are bizarre and the chef is just a bit frightening. There could be a moral and yet it to too odd to list it as so. It is a strange and unexpected tale.

To wrap it all up, Brooks brings us another short but succinct story, Shashlyk and Morozhenoe, revolving around his hero Ridley Fox. Fox goes undercover with a few other CIA operatives, posing as inspectors looking for bad meat. Looking to find and expose some important documents from the Arms of Ares, Ridley realizes the safe is not set up as expected. He calls in his man Dobbs. Unaware of the circumstances, his team is caught in a tight spot when the Russian Mafia show up and inform them that they have been watched on camera.

Can they hold on until Dobbs show’s up. Ridley is not to be trifled with, yet can he get out of one more spot of danger?

This is a fun and fanciful set of stories with are suspenseful and interesting. They hit just the right tone to keep you reading. Each is just different enough to build the pace, and just intriguing enough for enjoyable reading. This is a quick and intense novella, put together with verve. The characters in each case are disingenuous and really keep you interested.

Rating 4/5

This book was received as a free download from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Unsavory Delicacies, and Pandoras Succession by Russell Brooks can be found at the following outlets.


Amazon UK


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