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The Spice Box [Hardcover]

Lou Jane Temple


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BRIDGET Heaney shivered. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New historical mystery 9 Jun 2005
By Dawn Dowdle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lou Jane Temple is famous for her culinary mystery series featuring caterer Heaven Lee. This is a new culinary series set before 1900. I did not realize this until I started reading it. I normally shy away from historical mysteries, but I am so glad I read this one. Bridget Henry is an Irish Immigrant. She is all alone now. Her friend helps her get a job as a cook in the home of Isaac Gold, the wealthy owner of a department store.

She finds the body of Mr. Gold's son in the dough box on her first day. He'd been shot twice in the chest. Mr. Gold has no faith in the police finding his son's killer, so he decides he'd better do it. He enlists Bridget's help. He also ends up assisting her in her search for her sister. They set off on many adventures until Mr. Gold's wife tries to put a stop to it. Bridget still assists, but Mr. Gold is not as free to join in.

Bridget finds herself in quite a few interesting situations. She is such a wonderful character, and her interaction with Mr. Gold as well as the rest of the staff is terrific. The setting of the late 1800s really adds to this story. I can't wait to read more in this new series. Ms. Temple has a real winner! I highly recommend it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Taste of New York 15 May 2005
By Lesa Holstine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In the past, Lou Jane Temple has written contemporary mysteries about Heather Lee, a restaurant owner in Kansas City, Missouri. She moves back in time to 1860s New York for her latest book, The Spice Box. Bridget Heaney arrived in New York from Ireland as a child, and grew up on the streets and in an orphanage, along with her sister, Maggie. Fortunately for Bridget, she had a love of cooking that brought her to a mansion owned by the Gold family. Bridget's first day in her new job as a cook is disrupted when she finds the murdered body of the son of the household.

In an unusual twist, Bridget teams up with Mr. Gold, her boss and owner of Gold's Department Store, to find his son's killer. As her common sense proves to be a benefit to their search, he learns to trust her, and insists on helping her find her missing sister.

Although this partnership seems unusual, The Spice Box offers a fascinating look at three worlds; the Irish immigrant experience in mid-century New York, and the contrasting worlds of the serving class and upper class. Temple brings Bridget and her world to life while presenting an intriguing mystery.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll definitely read the next one too! 8 Jun 2005
By Armchair Interviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lou Jane Temple's latest novel The Spice Box is a historical mystery set in 1860's New York City.

Bridget Haney is an Irish immigrant who grew up on New York's mean streets and in an orphanage with her sister Maggie. Bridget has always loved to cook and has aspired to cook for a wealthy New York family.

Bridget realizes her dream when she is hired as the Gold family cook. Her first day on the job is marred when she finds the twice-shot body of Seth, the Gold's son, in the dough box. Bridget and Isaac Gold, Seth's father join forces to find the killer and Bridget's missing sister, Maggie.

The Spice Box is an interesting look at 1860's New York life and the differences between the serving class and their employers. Temple has also included some delicious mouth-watering recipes.

While the novel and its characters are somewhat predictable and formulaic, The Spice Box is a satisfying and enjoyable read and worth the time. I'll read her next novel too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was prepared to HATE it... LOL 27 April 2006
By Trixie Belle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I don't like changes. I want the next Heaven Lee mystery in the series YESTERDAY. But I caved and bought this book recently. It is a great read. Well written, thoughtful plot, interesting and tough female characters. So I promised myself, even though I don't like change, I will order and read the next book in the "Spice Box" series. The second book has a new heroine and yet another historical time period, but I will trust that I will enjoy the works of this author! :-)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars New York City - 1860s 14 July 2009
By Lyn Reese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Young, orphaned, Irish immigrant Bridget Heaney fortunately learned to cook during her employment at a German boarding house. This skill has landed her a job as assistant cook in the Manhattan mansion of Jewish department store owner Isaac Gold. On the first day of work she discovers the body of the family's youngest son, and is recruited by Mr. Gold to help him uncover the perpetrator of the crime and reasons for his son's death.

The story illustrates nineteenth century upstairs-downstairs distinctions and the rigid hierarchy among the staff according to the jobs they do. Bridget's forays downtown to the "real" New York let us see the world of poor Irish and Germans, uncared for children, prostitutes, crime, and unhealthy sanitation. Blackwell Island's "lunatic asylum," the alms houses, the orphan house, New York's stock exchange, and Jewish rituals surrounding mourning, all appear in the story. But the textbook like narrative in the telling of all this makes for dull reading. As difficult to handle are the times the characters speak in late twentieth century language, and the moments when Bridget, this orphan so new to the upper class world, pontificates in a way that seems out of character. And would wealthy Mr. Gold develop a companionate relationship with a servant he just met?

The author is a caterer and chef who has written contemporary mysteries featuring a chef and food themes. Cooks will love the story's detailed descriptions of the meals Bridget prepares. At the end are recipes of some of the dishes featured in the book.
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