Friday, October 16, 2015

Saints of the New Irish Kitchen: A Book Review

In short, SAINTS OF THE NEW IRISH KITCHEN is a delightful, complex, and very funny novel...

The hero of our story is Martie Smurfit, and she has a lot on her plate (and that's the last culinary pun I swear). The child she gave up for adoption 16 years earlier is coming to meet her, she has been sacked from her job as executive chef, and her partner is pushing her to go into business together.

She takes advantage of Brendan McKechnie, a clueless contractor with his own set of wild dreams, and eases herself into position to take over his failing gastro-pub, hiding out in the kitchen so he does not learn anything about her personal life and fire her. 

If you haven't figured it out yet, Martie is a lesbian. Her sexuality is part of the background, however, which makes the novel one that features diversity without beating the reader over the head with the concept. She's just as ordinary as any other woman you might meet, with problems in need of solving. So one of her problems is girlfriend-related. It adds texture to the novel.

At any rate, all that hiding leads to unintended consequences as Brendan brings in a financier who gets outed by the bartender in a case of The Troubles of Northern Ireland visiting the States.To protect her investment, her career and her future, Martie call in favors from a wide cast of characters, all somewhat off-center like herself, and puts the criminal in a place where he can be found by the police, to be arrested far from her restaurant.

The police don't make an arrest, however. They don't seem to know a thing about any Irish thug with wads of counterfeit American dollars in his pockets.

Hilarity ensues, as they say, and the novel becomes flat-out funny as Martie and Brendan try to cover up a crime of battery after losing the Irish gangster. Jumping at every noise, fearing arrest at any minute, they carry on with the pub's grand opening while praying that the patron saint of cooks can work a miracle.

Perfect for a weekend's entertainment, the story has plenty of twists and turns, along with a storyline that tugs a bit at the old heartstrings. Not quite a romance in the typical sense, but the novel has all the elements of a romantic comedy that makes for a lighthearted look at a cut-throat business.

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