A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.
When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.
As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.
With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret
serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction
The Chef's Secret is a yummy (pun intended) mystery filled with food, forbidden love and murder that revolves around a set of journals and secret letters. How appetizing does that sound?
Bartolomeo Scappi is a chef right out of the history books. He lived from 1500-1577 and served many Popes and was even the author of a best selling cookbook, which he dedicated to his nephew Giovanni. The author used that as the base for this book and I loved the direction it went.
Giovanni plays center stage as he tries to discover a past that he wasn’t meant to see. There are many layers here that kept the suspenseful pace going. I learned a lot about the times and it was refreshing to read in Rome without being overpowered by the Borgias or Medici families.
I love reading about lesser known characters in history and this fit the bill very nicely. Rome is one of my favorite places to visit and it was brought to life not just the edible part but visually as well as getting a feel for the lifestyle amongst the different social classes.
This is my first time reading Crystal King, her knowledge and passion of the era are evident. Definitely will be reading more of her books.
My thanks to Amy at Historical Fiction Blog Tour for the invite to be part of this tour and a complimentary ebook (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Crystal King is the author of THE CHEF'S SECRET and FEAST OF SORROW. A culinary enthusiast and social media professional, her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. A Pushcart-nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston.
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