La Crème de la Crem by John Piper

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La Crème de la Crem by John Piper

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: One of John Piper's early books and his experience shows but this saucily tinted thriller picks up pace and interest once joined by the police.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 261 Date: October 2013
Publisher: John Piper - Author

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Gala night at Frere Jacques restaurant where the local political and good gather for a banquet. Everyone is looking forward to a good night and that's what they'll have, just not quite in the way they envisaged. Indeed it will be a night to remember for a long time to come, for all the wrong reasons courtesy of the little something in the dessert. Meanwhile young people are going missing on a scale that the town of Tresside has never experienced before but Tresside doesn't know the half of it… yet!

Irish author John Piper enjoys writing about ordinary people in extraordinary situations as he proved with his satisfyingly quirky alternative history Hibernia Unanimis. We now have the opportunity to travel back in time to 2013 and one of John's earlier novels in which he shows us the world of high end dining colliding with politics and crime with lethal results.

John's trademark again hits us from the first few pages in which we're introduced to a plethora of characters. No need to be too anxious though; eventually the ones to remember will surface and stay with us.

These include the likes of local MP Charles Hill-Thomas who starts chastising his wife Fiona in a mutually recreational mode before crossing the line. There's also political party fixer Vincent enjoys an affair with the aforementioned Fiona. Meanwhile Mayor Raymond is having an affair with Hazel while married to Linda, Charles' mistress.

Oh yes, there's a lot of coupling in the first half (both suggested and graphic though in more bouncily than offensively) that floats over the sub-plot of abduction and murder. It's almost as if someone has taken two books and riffle-shuffled them together, card shark style. However eventually the thriller takes over from the nods towards Fifty Shades and Jilly Cooper's Riders and then the novel really takes off.

Like many decent (and indecent) thrillers, we know the full story ahead of the investigating authorities. Here we guess it around 30% in and wait a while for the constabulary to catch up with us, upping the ante once they cotton on. We then see how little moments along the way work towards painting a fuller picture for DI Lance Stimpson and colleagues as they unpick the web of death and deception. However, this isn’t the end…

John can be a clever plotter, taking us in directions we can't always predict. However in La Crème… he seems to be lacking confidence, sewing recaps into the narrative as late as 20% before the end. He should have more faith in his talent; these aren't people or relationships that will leave our mind's eye till we've gone beyond that final satisfying paragraph.

Indeed the punnishly entitled La Crème de la Crem may not be John's best work but in it we can see the seeds of the writing style that develops into the more accomplished Hibernia and as such it earn its place in his back catalogue.

(Thank you to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: It goes without saying that Hibernia Unanimis deserves a read. If you're already a fan of John Piper, how about continuing with the world of top end dining in tantalisingly named The Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone by Will Storr?

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Buy La Crème de la Crem by John Piper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy La Crème de la Crem by John Piper at


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