cover image Knife Skills: A Shadows of Chicago Mystery

Knife Skills: A Shadows of Chicago Mystery

Wendy Church. Severn House, $31.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4483-1259-7

In this tasty series opener, Church (the Jesse O’Hara series) introduces 20-something Chicago chef Sagarine Pfister, who quickly gets tangled up in the Windy City’s criminal underworld. One evening, Sagarine arrives at work to find her boss, executive chef Louie Ferrar, dead in the kitchen’s walk-in freezer. With an important private party—including Anatoly Morzov, the restaurant’s Russian crime boss owner—arriving shortly, Sagarine covers the body with a tablecloth and returns to the kitchen. Keeping Louie’s death on the back burner, she delivers such a successful meal that Anatoly invites her to permanently take over as executive chef and cater his own private events. The police, when they finally arrive after a call from the restaurant’s host, consider Sagarine’s promotion a sufficient motive for murder, and promptly add her to the suspect list. Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Smith offers to leave Sagarine’s drug-addicted sex worker sister alone if Sagarine informs on Anatoly and his crew—which would be dangerous enough if Sagarine wasn’t also falling for one of the gang’s high-ranking members. With brisk pacing and dynamic characters, Church keeps readers enthralled as her plot spins into violent territory, and successfully conceals a doozy of a twist that sends the series in an unexpected direction. Readers will be hungry for Church to cook up a sequel. (Mar.)