Title: Stanley Park
Author: Timothy Taylor
Summary: A young chef who revels in local bounty, a long-ago murder that remains unsolved, the homeless of Stanley Park, a smooth-talking businessman named Dante — these are the ingredients of Timothy Taylor's stunning debut novel — Kitchen Confidential meets The Edible Woman.
Trained in France, Jeremy Papier, the young Vancouver chef, is becoming known for his unpretentious dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, while struggling financially, is attracting the attention of local foodies, and is not going unnoticed by Dante Beale, owner of a successful coffeehouse chain, Dante's Inferno. Meanwhile, Jeremy's father, an eccentric anthropologist, has moved into Stanley Park to better acquaint himself with the homeless and their daily struggles for food, shelter and company. Jeremy's father also has a strange fascination for a years-old unsolved murder case, known as "The Babes in the Wood" and asks Jeremy to help him research it.
Dante is dying to get his hands on The Monkey's Paw. When Jeremy's elaborate financial kite begins to fall, he is forced to sell to Dante and become his employee. The restaurant is closed for renovations, Inferno style. Jeremy plans a menu for opening night that he intends to be the greatest culinary statement he's ever made, one that unites the homeless with high foody society in a paparazzi-covered celebration of "local splendour."
My Rating: 6.75/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was fairly unique to what I usually read. It was alright in the end, but how the book came together with the two story lines was the main reason for it being a just okay read rather than a great read.
The book doesn't have a lot going on in it, but it does take a good hard look at the characters focusing on who they are and what drives them. Many characters are rather eccentric but I found I couldn't connect to them. They had some interesting thoughts and some of their actions were rather, surprising, but I couldn't connect them to really appreciate their motives. I have to say, the slight twist near the end of the book was interesting. It did help save the book for me. I'm not sure if I'm more shocked or amused by Jeremy's actions, but it did help the book take an interesting turn.
The two separate story lines needed either a better connection to keep the plot moving and mesh everything together, or it needed to be split into two separate stories, with connected characters. I think with the later, it would have made for a much better read for me. Because I felt both of the different story lines had a lot that could happen with them and I felt they were both sacrificed, especially the ending, for the other. There was still some interesting moments, and the turn it took was amusing near the end, but the book did turn out to be an okay read.
Would I recommend it to read: I would. It was an odd book, I'm still undecided about it, but it is a book that may be worth experiencing.
What to read next: I'd take a look at the Canada's Reads list and all of those who didn't win. Some interesting reads there.
Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, New Author Challenge