Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves (2014)
Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves (...
About book: Dave Lowry is a restaurant critic with a keen eye for detail, and his passion for food is evident throughout his fiction debut, "Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves." Feeling out of sorts and like he's on the wrong life path, Tucker drops out of college and embarks on a road trip from New England to St. Louis. His passion is cooking - particularly Chinese food - and he's hoping an old friend in St. Louis can help him get a job. At a rest stop along the way, he overhears a stranded traveler speaking Mandarin into her phone. He's picked up some of the language from working in Chinese restaurants so he strikes up a conversation with her. They verbally dance for a while, each trying to figure out what angle the other is working, and then she accepts his proffered ride to her destination, Buffalo. It's a long trip and they spend a night at his parents' house to rest and refresh. While she - Corrine - takes a shower, her phone rings incessantly. Tucker finally answers it, and what he hears on the other end is both cryptic and confusing. He hangs up and deletes the call, not wanting Corrine to know that he had been snooping. Back on the road, he learns a little more about her. She works for a diamond distributor in Canada and is taking some time off to visit some friends in the states. He recalls what he heard on her phone the previous night and momentarily wonders if she's being completely above-board, but he lets it pass. He finds himself somewhat smitten, and when he drops her off in Buffalo he gives her his phone number and tells her to call if she ever needs anything. As he's leaving, he's accosted on the sidewalk outside of her apartment building by a Chinese man asking about someone named Wenqian. Tucker thinks it's simply a pretext for a robbery, so he acts first and punches the man in the chest. As the man stumbles away, he says something just as odd as what he heard on Corrine's phone. Tucker makes it to St. Louis, lands a job in a Chinese restaurant, and settles into his post-college life. One day he receives a call from Corrine - would he be willing to pick her up in Buffalo and bring her to St. Louis? She doesn't really give him a solid answer as to why, and he wonders if the nervousness he hears in her voice is just his imagination. Still, he agrees and takes a few days off from work to pick her up. On the way back they get to know each other better and even do a bit of sight-seeing. The story thus far is basically a boy-meets-girl tale, but once Corrine gets to St. Louis it branches out into more adventurous territory. What happened with Corrine in Canada? Why does the FBI come calling? Who is Wenqian? Is Corrine on the run? Is Tucker in danger because of his association with her? While not a hard-core or overly-complicated caper novel, "Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves" is an entertaining read with a satisfying - if not completely unexpected - ending, and a perfect read for a lazy summer day. It's rare that I read a book within days of starting it, as I did with this one. It is funny, has a good plot, interesting characters, and suspense. After meeting a Chinese girl, Corrine, at a roadside rest area, Tucker helps her. This evolves from merely giving her a ride, to protecting her from Chinese mobsters trying to learn what happened to some diamonds that disappeared from the place she worked. The story builds with interludes of relative quiet at the Chinese restaurant where Tucker works.Each chapter starts with one of Tucker's many "Rules", which give a humorous note to what will be happening. I liked that much of the story is based in St. Louis, and various places are important to the narrative.
3.5* appealed to both my foodie and martial arts aficionado aspects, what's not to like?
Fast paced and clever. And a great primer in non-American Chinese cooking.
This book was a surprisingly wonderful read. It was fun and different.
Light, funny, charming. A good book for breaking a reading slump.