A love story wrapped in a murder mystery, served up as a laugh-out-loud satire of the trendy urban restaurant scene.
Jeremy Papier, the new Alice Waters of the Vancouver food world, is fast becoming known for his radically rear-guard cuisine — tradition-steeped dishes that celebrate the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. His restaurant, The Monkey’s Paw Bistro, is always fully booked, but, unfortunately, it’s more an artistic triumph than a reasonably run business. Far too costly ever to turn a profit, it is kited by Jeremy on dozens of maxed-out credit cards. An old family friend, Dante Beale, owner of a worldwide chain of cookie-cutter coffeehouses, is willing to bail the restaurant out — for the price of sole control. It’s a business proposition made in hell, one strenuously opposed by Jeremy’s pretty young sous chef, the incorruptible, plainspoken Jules.
Jeremy’s problems deepen when his eccentric-academic father — a “participatory anthropologist” half Joseph Mitchell, half Joe Gould — loses himself among the homeless in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. He lives as they do (he’s especially adept at catching and roasting sparrows) and soon involves Jeremy in researching a “cold case” crime, the true-life murder of two children slain in the park in the early 1970’s.
Timothy Taylor weaves together the disparate, brightly colored strands of his story with unerring skill and unflagging comic invention. Stanley Park, already a Canadian best seller, is a comic novel of the first order and a memorable literary debut.