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Who's Afraid of Virginia Ham? [Mass Market Paperback]

Phyllis Richman
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 14 2002
An ambitious young reporter with the looks and brains to become a star, new hire Ringo Laurenge is poised for a great future with the Washington Examiner. Too bad most of the staffers -- including Chas Wheatley -- wish the arrogant, back-stabbing creep would get his just desserts. Not only does this egomaniac steal other reporters's stories, he's also determined to destroy a restaurant Chas is researching. Her worries over Ringo have even begun to cut into Chas's love life. It's only a matter of time before the cheesy writer headlines the obituary page. But the insatiably curious Chas -- a journalist with a taste for sleuthing and scoops -- isn't sure she wants to find out which of her colleagues, and the rest of the capital, finally had enough...

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In her third excursion into culinary crime (after Murder on the Gravy Train and the Agatha-nominated The Butter Did It) Richman throws in the requisite ingredients for a tasty whodunit, but with mixed success. Food editor Chas Wheatley is fuming over the Washington Examiner's latest hire: slick, slimy Ringo Laurenge. He may have the stuff of great reporters, but he also has a knack for annoying just about everyone else on the staff. Chas has been working on a story about America's most expensive restaurants, but she makes the mistake of telling her new colleague about it. She soon discovers that Laurenge is worming himself into a position to take over the story and leave Chas out in the cold. Her best friend, African-American theater critic Sherele Travis, encounters a more vicious side of Laurenge when he brutally assaults her. As Richman goes to tedious lengths to build a damning portrait of the obnoxious reporter, Chas and Sherele delve into Laurenge's past, trying to find some way of spiking his guns. Long after many readers will have given up on ever getting to a dead body, someone on the staff resorts to murder as the solution, when Laurenge dies from apparently lethal Virginia ham served at a work function. Though the author writes with clarity and passion about food, she explores character at the expense of suspense. The anticlimactic solution to the crime comes too late. Most readers will have put the book down and gone in search of food, thanks to the mouth-watering descriptions of the goodies Chas likes to eat. Agent, Bob Barnett. 7-city author tour. (May 3)Forecast: With The Butter Did It to be a CBS-TV Movie of the Week this fall and other film adaptations to follow, Richman should make a delicious leap in sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In her third culinary mystery (Murder on the Gravy Train, The Butter Did It), Chas Wheatley, food critic for a Washington, DC newspaper (and amateur sleuth), reels with shock after the paper's new hire, a charming but dangerously ambitious and deceitful young man, tries to put one of her favorite restaurants out of business. Fortunately, Chas, by now knowing the score, goes on the offensive, digs into his past for ammunition, and counterattacks. The man's murder, already foreshadowed, comes as no surprise, nor does the lengthy list of willing suspects. Very nicely written, with plenty of attention to food, character, and motive; an excellent selection.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicious mystery May 22 2001
Competing with two other newspapers for the circulation of the DC crowd propels Washington Examiner Managing Editor Bull Stannard to bring in a popular young gun from Los Angeles. Bull believes that thirty-two year-old Ringo Laurenge, known for his rap work on the OJ trial, will bring a slew of new readers to the paper, which in turn means new ad money. Bull allows Ringo carte blanch with no one's section protected from the new kid on the block.

However, Ringo proves to be arrogant and nasty rather quickly, earning the hatred of the entire news room in spite of his brilliance at writing a story. No one is saved from his scathing remarks and soon much of the staff wants him dead including restaurant critic Chas Wheatley, who has had the boy wonder steal some of her ideas. However, she believes he crosses the line when he attacks a local restaurant, Two Views. Not long afterward, someone decides to take matters into their own hands and kills Ringo. Chas wonders if perhaps one of her colleagues murdered the odious journalist or perhaps someone involved in the restaurant he dissed did the deed. She starts her own investigation to find out who did it and why.

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA HAM, the third Wheatley culinary mystery, is an exciting, cleverly plotted who-done-it with a myriad of suspects as the victim is universally loathed. Chas is a wonderful character and the support cast adds to the savory demeanor of a gourmet delight of an amateur sleuth novel.

Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tasty, satisfying--a meaty book June 4 2001
This is P. Richman's third mystery with Chas. Wheatley, a food reporter, as the narrator. It is her best. Richman was the Washington Post editor for many years, and easily rivals Julia Child in her knowledge of food. Her knowledge of food, restaurants, and newspapers shines through this book. Her keen observation of people and scenes enriches this book. But what really sets this book off from her two earlier and excellent mysteries is the depiction and development of the the creepy Ringo--a new face in the newsroom. Keep scribbling them out Phyllis and we will keep eating em up.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
I agree with the reviewer who wrote that this book was not a page turner. However, I still think it was a very good book, just not terribly strong as a mystery. The food descriptions, and Ms. Richman's knowledge of food and the industry is incredibly strong and accurate. The characters are interesting and realistically developed. It is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed June 29 2001
Having read and re-read the first two Chas Wheatley mysteries, I was very disappointed with this one. Most books I can hardly put down, this one I had trouble picking up each time I would slog through a chapter. The murder comes way too late and the solution spins out way too fast. I'm looking forward to Book 4 and hopefully a return to the page turner category.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the previous two in this series Jan. 15 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Many of the characters form the previous two books reappear and they are fun, but the story is pretty silly. Overall, this was a disappointment.
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