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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Chef


Publisher: Joffe Books

Publication Date: 04/09/2024

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

Hiring him might be the most dangerous mistake I ever made . . .

I started as a server in a New York restaurant. That’s where I met my husband, Dante.

Now we’re opening our own restaurant in Los Angeles. It’s our dream come true.

But it’s turning into a nightmare. We’re nearly out of money. I had to fire our head chef after he ‘accidentally’ stabbed me. And now I’ve caught my husband flirting with a waitress. He used to flirt with me like that.

Then Chef Marco shows up. The answer to our prayers. He’s cooked in top restaurants all over Europe. He also has the most stunning green eyes. We hire him on the spot.

That’s when the nightmare really begins . . .


Perfect for fans of Freida McFadden, Daniel Hurst, Valerie Keogh, Lucy Foley, Shari Lapena, T.M. Logan and Clare Mackintosh.

My Review

Bestselling author Robin Mahle takes a break from her popular Detective Rebecca Ellis series (my favorite) with her latest riveting standalone, THE CHEF. —a delicious cat—and—mouse thriller that I devoured in one sitting. Highly entertaining!

When a husband-and-wife team opens a new restaurant, sinister things occur after a charming, handsome, and capable new chef enters their world, becoming a nightmare from hell!

I LOVED it! From non-stop action, suspense, and thrills by the minute, this wicked psychological thriller of mystery, ambition, deception, greed, and revenge will keep you glued to the pages when MURDER is on the menu! This is not a cozy mystery. It is so much more!

When I love and am passionate about a book, I always get wordy— Do not judge. :)

When I saw this title, I could not imagine Robin Mahle (a favorite author) writing anything other than cop procedurals (which is all I have read by Robin)—she does it so well. However, I should have known this master storyteller could pull off any genre with her rock star-mad writing skills! (Never fear; there are murders and two detectives involved.) A crooked one, and a good one.

This fast-paced, captivating, sensorial rich page-turner will take you on a delicious, wicked, delectable, unforgettable wild ride! The author deftly serves up intrigue, scandal, blackmail, and murder, blended with mouth-watering food and a sprinkling of poison. SO MUCH FUN!

Meet Kira and Dante Lucini, a couple of ex-New Yorkers moving to L.A. to open a new restaurant. They have mortgaged their house and La Bianca's, their latest restaurant in downtown L.A. to the hilt, with some stiff competition. After remodeling and being fully aware of the statistics and failures of opening a new restaurant, this is their passion; months later, they are ready to open.

They have hired a full staff: head chef Eric, sous chef Naomi, pastry chef Amy, butcher chef Manny, and other staff, servers, and a bartender. Dante oversees the staff, menus, and front-of-the-house man with his looks, charm, and designer suits. Kira handles the books, finances, food shopping, vendors, marketing, and delivery.

However, Dante always says, "It's you and me, Okay, We got this." She hopes so.

They met in Manhattan at a restaurant when Kira was a server, and Dante eventually became head chef. They purchased the new restaurant at a foreclosure sale and are excited about their latest endeavor.

Angelo, Dante's Italian 41-year-old older brother, an alcoholic, sits around all day and night drinking their fine wine at the restaurant's bar. After their Italian immigrant parents died in a fire at their bakery in Brooklyn, he has not been himself. Also, Naomi is beautiful and has eyes for Dante. She would love to be head chef but is not ready yet. Kira will have to watch this one.

In addition, things between Dante and Kira have been rocky for the last seven months, renovating the restaurant, creating menus, hiring staff, stress, and Kira almost getting killed after she was STABBED by Eric, the chef, by accident. However, a good write-up in the LA Times helped feature their authentic Italian cuisine with a Mediterranean flair.

Just hours before opening their first dinner service, the meat has been delivered with maggots. Then things go downhill when Kira finds the chef doing drugs and is high. She fires him in the middle of the dinner service when one of the most prestigious food critics is in the restaurant, and they need a positive review.

What comes next is a series of events after their chef is gone. He gets killed in a car accident. A murder investigation, and they suspect Dante.

Kira is at the farmer's market, and a new restaurant is opening across the way. She runs into a guy named Marco, and they wind up hiring him as head chef. Kira finds herself attracted to his deep green eyes, charm, and good looks; he wows everyone at the restaurant with his fabulous cooking skills. Everyone seems to like him, and he came highly recommended. They are delighted, but can they trust him? He is competitive and ambitious.

Then, more sinister things occur, starting with poisoning, rodents let loose in the kitchen, and then the critic's food review comes into question that Dante paid for the review.

Is someone trying to sabotage their restaurant? They went from a full house with booked reservations to no reservations. Is it Marco? Why would he harm them when he is the chef? Is it their competition?

What is going on? Things go from bad to worse, and Dante and Kira are pitted against one another and both in danger. There are more murders, which makes them suspects and ruins the restaurant's reputation. Plus, the Detective in charge does not seem to believe them and refuses to look into Marco's background. However, Kira and Dante must join forces with someone from Napa Valley who may know about Marco's background and shed new light.

One of their worst mistakes was hiring Marco, but now they cannot seem to get rid of him. He is pure evil! How far will someone go to ensure their restaurant and lives are ruined? What is the motive? Who can they trust?

WOW! This is a read in one sitting, unputdownable! You are dying to see how all the storylines are connected to the opening scene, told from alternating POVs: Kira, Dante, and Marco with an unexpected TWIST!

THE CHEF is SIZZLING! Murder, egos, pressures, and mayhem in this hot new LA restaurant. This adrenaline-fueled and engaging foray into the treacherous and competitive world of chefs allows readers to view the hidden world behind the restaurant kitchen doors. Not to be missed!

A rollicking wild roller coaster adventure, engaging characters (some evil and some good, as tasty as the recipes) with grit, wit, mystery, intrigue, and suspense so thick and juicy, you could cut it with the chef's knife! (And there are plenty of those).

From greed, ambition, passion, dark secrets, danger, tension, and hectic demands to pressures to excel, family drama, mystery, and murder with a plot so rich and twisty it will appeal to the appetites of well-crafted, fast-paced domestic suspense thriller fans.

Especially those who delight in fine cuisine and have spent time in upscale restaurants working in the business, management, servers, chefs, foodies, and the food scene from the front of the house to the back, behind closed doors in the kitchen where the action comes alive (or dead in this case).

What goes on behind your dinner? Fans of Hell's Kitchen will devour. I would love to see a movie based on the novel!

Mahle's recipe for THE CHEF will entice the senses. The book is vibrant in visual and flavorable detail. The wicked, blackmailing, gaslighting, manipulative, conniving, calculating, scheming, and evil-twisted characters fight for the top chef position and will stop at nothing to get it. On the positive side, there are some endearing redemptive characters, and the book has a perfect ending, making it a binge-worthy top read.

THE CHEF is a feast with mouth-watering cuisine and a flavor for power and revenge, plus an unstoppable husband and wife you will root for —with unreliable narrators, at times, you are not sure whom to trust.

Hooked from the first page to the satisfying conclusion, readers will be hungry for more Kira and Dante in future books. I savored every page and highly recommend it. A favorite author, I enjoy her writing style.

Thanks to the author and publisher, Joffe Books, for the opportunity to read an advanced digital reading copy for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars+

Pub Date: April 8, 2024

About the Author

Robin Mahle has published more than 30 novels in the mystery/thriller genre. She also writes historical fiction as Christine Chase.

Her most recent series, the Detective Rebecca Ellis thrillers, are published by Inkubator Books.

It is Robin’s fast-paced style of storytelling combined with tense action and thrilling twists that bring her readers back for more. So be sure sure to subscribe to her newsletter to keep up on all the latest releases, sales, and giveaways. Go to and sign up today!

Robin lives in Coastal Virginia with her husband and two children.

Check out my #AuthorElevatorSeries Chat with Robin to learn more about her popular Detective Rebecca Ellis crime series and more up close and personal with this talented author! INTERVIEW



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