“Carl Hiaasen, meet Hannibal Lecter” in this comedy about a vengeful Hawaiian chef, his greedy rivals, and some very bad table manners (Kirkus Reviews).
Joseph Tanumafili’s family-owned food-service business in Honolulu has been the only game in town for years. But when competing caterers from Las Vegas arrive to accommodate the cast and crew of a film shoot, the battle for paradise begins. As far as Joseph and his hotheaded Samoan uncle are concerned, no mainlanders are going to muscle in on native territory.
Lines are drawn and everyone’s taking a side: a gay TV producer on romantic rebound; his androgynous New Age–y assistant; a horny stroke survivor in a state of perpetual, chemically induced arousal; an aspiring missionary; a dimwitted bodybuilder; and a sweet-natured pimp. But when the Sin City boys decide to enlist the services of an ecstasy-popping ex-Marine hit man, Joseph hits back. And for such a resourceful chef, the revenge is going to be absolutely delicious.
Mark Haskell Smith offers a guide to Hawaii that definitely hasn’t been endorsed by the tourist bureau, nor is it “for those with weak stomachs, prudish minds or delicate ears, but that leaves the rest of us to savor the novel’s many twisted charms” (Baltimore Sun).
“Think Elmore Leonard meets Mario Batali.” —Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times
“Perverse black humor and sensuality, totally unexpected situations . . . simply breathtaking.” —Liz Smith, New York Post
Set in a seedy, sun-baked Hawaii that most tourists don't know exists, Smith's frenetic second novel (after Moist) begins with a flash-forward to a Greek tragedy of a luau. Roasting human flesh was not on the agenda for Joseph when he set out to become a professional chef, but a battle to keep the family catering business from being ruined by a greedy rival gradually drives him to desperation. The battle begins when a gay TV producer flies to the islands for a film shoot, sparking a contest over who will provide food for the set. Joseph, his uncle Sid and dimwitted cousin Wilson have been the only game in town, but a nasty, horny, recovering stroke victim with Mafia connections has come to Honolulu from Las Vegas to take over the film-catering industry. Sid is not about to let his paradise dream be wrecked, but then hit men are brought in. Meanwhile, Joseph must decide whether to follow his culinary dreams to New York City, support his uncle's war against the outsiders or indulge a gay suitor to save the family business all of which leads to that luau from hell. At once sexy and repulsive, the novel manages to plant sharp moral and cultural barbs in its gorge-feast of a plot.