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*** stars. Gabriel Lightfoot is an man from a northern England mill town, who has climbed to the position of executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel. Much of the beginning of the book involves the efforts of Gabe to run a successful kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of a multinational staff, frustrating hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. Despite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to pay off until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. It is a seemingly "insignificant" death of a foreign worker - but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life. Outside of work, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and there appears to an illegal business taking place in the hotel. Enter Lena, an attractive young emigrant woman with mysterious ties to the dead man and an horrendous history. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which change the course of the life he knows - and the future he thought he wanted. Throughout the book I kept wanting to interrupt Gabe and tell him to think about what he was doing. He makes so many poor choices and manages his priorities so badly, you want to wring his neck. Perhaps, however, this is precisely the goal of the author - to engage the reader to this degree of involvement in the progression of Gabe's life. To have you wonder, will he ever act wisely and find what is truly important for his life? recommend.
posted Jul 7, 2013 at 6:09PM
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