Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders: The Neil Flambe Capers #1

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9781554702664: Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders: The Neil Flambe Capers #1
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Fourteen-year-old wunderchef Neil Flambé can cook anything, and patrons pay top dollar and wait months for reservations at his tiny boutique restaurant. What many of Neil’s patrons don’t know, however, is that he’s also a budding detective, code-named The Nose.” It all started when he used his knowledge of cooking and his incredible sense of smell to acquit his mother’s client of murder. Now, however, some of the best chefs in town are turning up dead, the cops are stumped, and the crime scenes aren’t helping. The only real clues are a mysterious smell and some equally mysterious notes in Italian! that have something to do with the great explorer Marco Polo. As more and more chefs fall prey to the killer, and more and more notes turn up, Neil finds himself working not only to solve the murders, but to eliminate himself as the prime suspect!

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About the Author:

Kevin Sylvester is an award-winning writer, illustrator and broadcaster. His books include Gold Medal for Weird (2009) and Sports Hall of Weird (2006). His book for adults, Shadrin has Scored for Russia, was nominated for the Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 2002. His illustrations have been seen in The Toronto Star, the Literary Review of Canada and on cbc.ca. Kevin is often heard on CBC Radio. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders Chapter One

Salmon or Salmonella?


Neil Flambé stood in his kitchen and took a deep breath.

Was perfection too much to expect? he wondered. He spoke slowly into his phone.

“Gunter, the salmon you sent me is just this side of rotten. I have twenty people expecting a fantastic fish dinner tonight. What they are not expecting is a side dish of FOOD POISONING!” The man on the other end of the call held the receiver away from his ear. He was Gunter Lund, a famous chef in his native Germany before burning out five years ago in a pitched battle with a stubborn batch of bierwurst sausages.



He’d moved to Vancouver to escape the stress and had started his own seafood distribution business. But clients like Flambé made him wonder if it wasn’t time to go back to cooking. He felt a shot of pain in his stomach. His doctor had warned him about stress and ulcers.

It’s not any fourteen-year-old who can talk to me in that tone of voice, he thought.

That was certainly true, but Neil Flambé was not just any fourteen-year-old. He had his own restaurant, his own line of cooking pans, and his picture was on the front cover of the latest issue of CHEF! Magazine, under the headline “Is There Anything This Boy Can’t Cook?”

Neil Flambé was a star.

Another of Flambé’s talents? He could make an ordinary cell phone sound like a megaphone.

“HELLO? GUNTER? Are you still there? I need a different fish!”

Gunter wanted desperately to hang up. Instead he tried another approach. “Neil, please calm down. The man on the boat assured me that he caught the fish this morning.”

“Floating on top of an oil slick?” Neil yelled. “Listen, I have the top food critics from all the major newspapers coming for dinner, as well as the Spanish ambassador. If I serve that toxic fish to my guests, it will KILL THEM!”

“You’re exaggerating, Neil,” Lund said, struggling to stay calm. “It was fine when it left here. And it’s only a few minutes to your restaurant.”

Neil took a loud breath, prepping for another assault on Gunter’s ears.

“But if you insist,” Gunter continued quickly, deciding it was probably best just to give in, “I’ll send over another fish right away.”

There was a short silence.

“You’ll send two,” Neil said firmly.

Gunter paused. His stomach had started to churn, and he knew he’d need to pop another antacid or five when he finally got off the phone. Flambé was one of his best—or at least one of his best-paying—customers. He’d fork over plenty for a good salmon. The only problem was that he was a royal pain in the zielscheibe: the rear end.

Gunter rubbed his finger over his throbbing temple. “Yes, fine, two,” he said. The line clicked and Flambé was gone. 

“He doesn’t even say danke schön,” Gunter muttered angrily. He turned in his chair and yelled out the window to his partner Renée, who was sitting on the dock fixing her nets.

“I need two fresh salmon right away!” Gunter shouted. “Still flipping, if you can find any like that.”

He burped. “And bring me some antacids, too.”

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