Murder on the Menu: Cordon Bleu Stories of Crime and Mystery

Peter Haining, Editor
Peter Haining, Editor Carroll & Graf Publishers $21 (0p) ISBN 978-0-88184-859-5
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The house specialty is murder in this substantial, unsurprising collection of classic short mysteries by such master practitioners as Washington Irving, Gaston Leroux, Georges Simenon, Damon Runyon and P. D. James. Roger Zelazny's ``Final Dining'' is a gothic tale of greed with a twist, featuring a painting of the Last Supper; in Ruth Rendell's ``Bribery and Corruption,'' a ruthless, philandering executive meets the son of a man he wronged in a London restaurant and later receives his just deserts. Paul Gallico serves up a gourmand's delight in the charming ``Chef d'Oeuvre,'' blending suspense and a happy ending with attentive descriptions of a wondrous meal as prepared by a chef in the Loire Valley. Well-known trencherman and detective Nero Wolfe must solve a dinner-party dilemma after a man is fatally poisoned at a banquet prepared by Wolfe's chef Fritz Brenner in Rex Stout's ``Poison a la Carte.'' Agatha Christie's sleuth Hercule Poirot resolves an intricate case of mistaken identity and murder by paying close attention to the victim's dining habits. TV viewers of a certain age will recognize Roald Dahl's ``Lamb to the Slaughter'' as the basis of a famous prime-time mystery starring Barbara Bel Geddes. These offerings, many previously collected, will delight the palates of readers who have a taste for traditional tales. (Nov.)
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