Kevin Sylvester – The Neil Flambé Capers

★★★★

Title: The Neil Flambé Capers #1 – #4

  1. Neil Flambé and The Marco Polo Murders
  2. Neil Flambé and The Aztec Abduction
  3. Neil Flambé and The Crusader’s Curse
  4. Neil Flambé and The Tokyo Treasure

Author: Kevin Sylvester
Language: English
Publication details: NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

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My Ponderings:

The Neil Flambé Capers is basically about a teenage prodigy chef, who rather resembles Gordon Ramsay in demeanor (perhaps that’s why he called the book “Good fun.”) and goes around cooking good food and getting into mishaps.

 

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When my brother bought the first two books, I had my doubts as to how good this “children’s series” could be. It’s not that I had anything against children’s books (I still get a guilty thrill out of reading them. In fact, I recently downloaded a whole series of Berenstain Bears…what is my life), I was just wondering if it was worth buying. I was intrigued by the concept, but was afraid that the story might be a bit too “kiddy” (says the girl who still occasionally reads books meant for 8-9 year olds).

Boy, was I delightfully proven wrong! I’m the one who bought the next two books in the series simply because I loved the Neil Flambé Capers so much! No, this post isn’t endorsed by Kevin Sylvester, even though I really wish it was so that I could quit my day job and just write book reviews all day.

Moving on.

I’m a sucker for kids’ books honestly, most picture books delight me. The Neil Flambé Capers isn’t exactly a kids’ book I would say, it’s more towards Young Adult. Which is why I was even more dubious considering the tendency for books of that genre to verge into the dismal zone. Thankfully, the Neil Flambé Capers has a very unique story that revolves around food, international cuisine and underground cooking competitions, what’s not to like?

I have to admit, at some points the description of the sights and tastes of the food had me salivating! I have a good imagination, so reading words about food can get me hungry. At first, I’ll imagine the tantalizing flavors on my taste-buds, then I’ll envision the food in front of me, biting into it, chewing, savoring, swallowing…next thing I know I’m raiding the pantry going “Feed me, SEYMOUR!!”

 

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Because you deserve it.
Neil  is a likable main character, despite his grouchiness, or more probably, because of his grouchiness. He’s a teenager, but unlike most teenage prodigies in books who are “modest” to a tee, he acknowledges his prowess and despises having to go to school to put up with the mundane routine. I like that. Enough with the “I just want to be a normal teen,” already, own your awesomeness! I don’t even care if you’re arrogant, just own it.

 

Actually, all the characters are really likable, and they come as a very motley crew. There’s Larry, the hippie cousin; Angel, the mentor; Detective Nakamura, the erm…detective; and Isabella, the love interest. The words ‘love interest’ in a YA novel usually have me backing away and poking it with a ten foot pole, but the attraction between Neil and Isabella doesn’t send out a “One True Love” vibe at all. They’re just teenagers who have crushes on each other, plain and simple. Me gusta mucho.

Oh yeah, another huge plus point for me was that Neil also helps out in detective cases by using his supreme sense of smell! I love me a good detective story. Though the cases obviously aren’t as intricately thought out as a Hercule Poirot or as intelligent as a Sherlock Holmes, they add an interesting twist to the story and usually end up with Neil having to show off his cooking flair. See what I mean? This whole story is so unorthodox I just love it!

Definitely recommend this series: unique concept, interesting characters and enjoyable stories. And of course, food!!

 

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Mmm…salted prawns. *drooling noises*
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