by Doward Wilson
The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel has brought Peter King’s eight-book series of The Gourmet Detective to life with three movies to date. Set in San Francisco rather than London, the movies star Dyan Neal as well-known food expert Henry Ross, and Brooke Burns as police detective, Maggie Price.
In the first movie, Gourmet Detective, Henry is asked to quietly investigate sabotage at a friend’s restaurant. During a food showcase dinner at that restaurant, a well-known investigative reporter dies under suspicious circumstances, and Maggie is the detective assigned to the investigation. Having met Henry while attending a cooking class he was teaching, and seeing his observational skills at work, she brings him in for further questioning. Henry is the common denominator in everyone’s statement, but with no motive, and an insider’s knowledge of everyone involved; he is asked to work with Maggie as an unpaid consultant.
Sabotage, ambitious chefs, old enemies, greed, and culinary expertise all play vital parts in this well-paced and twisted entry.
In the second movie, A Healthy Place To Die, Henry is doing a cooking demonstration at a weekend culinary expo hosted by a local resort spa. Maggie is on a forced vacation and agrees to be Henry’s guest after his assistant is forced to cancel. During the opening reception, we meet an investigative journalist who wants a private conversation with Henry. Before they can meet, however, Henry finds the woman’s body floating in a spa pool, only to have it disappear before he can get Maggie to the scene. With no body, they are forced to investigate quietly.
In addition there are: a movie star whose career was ruined by a video the dead reporter posted online, a New York restaurant owner who lost his marriage and business thanks to the same reporter, and a disgruntled boyfriend; we have a great suspect list that only gets bigger. There are twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat while you wait to see what happens next. So much for Maggie’s vacation!
The third movie, Death Al Dente, brings Maggie and Henry together again to work on the assault and later murder of Henry’s friend, a local chef and restaurant owner. A distraught wife, break-ins with nothing taken, family secrets, and a treasure that goes back to Italy during World War II make this an adventure that you don’t want to miss.
With everything going on in the case, Maggie also finds herself contending with a mysterious stalker and an old flame who wants back into her life. Henry is dealing with establishing more than a working relationship with Maggie while dealing with jealousy over her ex-flame.
I really enjoyed all the wonderful food experiences, the beautiful background scenery of San Francisco and the complex murder plots. The cast really comes across as well-developed characters who enjoy working together. We get to see a nice balance of Maggie’s family life as a single mom with a young teenage daughter, and her career as a hard-working police detective. It has been fun watching the work relationship between Maggie and Henry go from antagonistic sparring to respect for each other. The developing romantic relationship between them is funny and endearing. These movies will give you great adventures and lots of laughs!
Check out the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel to learn more and watch for when they may be repeating these fun mystery movies.