Christine's Book List Reviews and News -Books for people who love the mystery of the past. Independent mystery reviews, news and interviews.
Reviewer Lesa Holstine
As an author, Lou Jane Temple has been known for her mysteries featuring Heaven Lee, a restaurant owner in Kansas City, Missouri. Since Temple herself was a restaurant owner, she is able to share her love of food in the recipes and stories that revolved around Lee. Stepping away from Heaven Lee, Temple continues to share wonderful recipes in her new mystery, The Spice Box, and the book has the added strength of great historical detail.
The Spice Box details the lives of Irish immigrants in New York during the mid-1800s, through the character of Bridget Heaney. At the age of ten, Bridget, her father, and sister fled the Irish potato famine for New York City. When their father disappeared, the two girls supported themselves as pickpockets until they were rounded up and sent to an orphanage. There, Bridget learned to cook. When she goes to work in a boardinghouse, her sister disappeared. Bridget's skills as a cook take her to a mansion owned by the Gold family, the Jewish family that owns Gold's Department Store.
Bridget may be prepared to cook, but she is not prepared to find the dead body of the son of the family on her first day of employment. She continues her cooking duties and earns the trust of her boss, who calls on her for assistance in the search for the truth behind his son's death. As they search for a murderer, they also search for Bridget's missing sister. The mismatched pair delve into the mystery while digging through the history of Jewish and Irish life in New York City, and the changing roles of the immigrants. Temple includes fascinating recipes from nineteenth-century New York in her latest mystery. But it is the details of Bridget's life in the mean streets of New York, and the behind the scenes kitchen life that bring this story to life.
The Spice Box by Lou Jane Temple 2005 ISBN 0425200434