The pot thief discovers that archaeology is not nearly as cutthroat as the restaurant business
A treasure hunter, pottery dealer, and occasional manufacturer of imitation American Indian artifacts, Albuquerque’s Hubie Schuze knows quite a bit about throwing clay. But ancient Native American pottery is not really intended for dining, so he is puzzled when a restaurateur comes to him asking for dinner plates. The job sounds boring, but the fee does not: $25,000 for one hundred plates for a new Austrian restaurant in Santa Fe. The owner insists Hubie relocate to the area for the duration of the job in order to soak in the restaurant atmosphere as he works.
Hubie has dealt with his fair share of grave robbers, museum burglars, and cold-blooded killers, but nothing could prepare him for the infighting that goes on behind a kitchen’s doors. When the cooks start croaking, the pot thief will have to move quickly to collect his fee, save the restaurant, and escape Santa Fe alive.
The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier is the 4th book in the Pot Thief Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
Orenduff successfully combines humor and homicide in his superb eighth Pot Thief whodunit (after 2016's The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O'Keeffe). Part-time investigator Hubie Schuze, who unapologetically supports himself by illegally digging up ancient Native American pottery and then selling the artifacts at his Albuquerque store, accepts an adjunct teaching position at the University of New Mexico. Hubie was surprised by the offer, given that he had helped put a former head of the university's art department in prison, but he soon gets invested in trying to connect with device-addicted millennials. Hubie dodges several bullets, including a sexual harassment claim by a student who offered to sleep with him in exchange for a better grade, but he becomes a murder suspect after one of his students, who was covered in a plaster cast for a 3-D model, is found dead inside it. Fans of campus satires will enjoy how Orenduff skewers academic politics and political correctness in the service of a fair-play plot.