Murder, drug-dealing, and adultery behind a famous restaurant.
Ralph Launcier, a successful celebrity chef and restaurateur, is also a drug dealer and a murderer. He fears that Cameron, his brother in law, who picked up the wrong menu one day, is about to blow open his lucrative drug ring, and unearth his murky past. Ralph plans Cameron’s demise. The plan backfires. Ralph is killed. Cameron ends up in jail, dependent on his thirteen-year-old stepdaughter.
Ralph and Cameron are good friends, but when Cameron’s inquisitiveness starts to threaten Ralph’s life-style, he immediately sets to work to eliminate Cameron. He orders his own wife to sleep with Cameron for information, and tells his sister, Cameron’s wife, to snoop on Cameron’s activities.
Cameron is hounded from his home, becomes a homeless dropout, resorts to petty theft to survive, and shacks up with a drug taker. Ralph comes after him, but is the victim of his own deathly plot.
A page-turning story of murder, drug-dealing, corruption, adultery, and a step-daughter’s love and determination to set the record straight: set against the backdrop of the behind-the-scenes workings of a top restaurant.
Alberto Laurenzo let out an anguished cry, and reached for his chest. The two plates of food he carried fell
from his hands and clattered on the floor. His face looked red and distorted. Nearby, a middle-aged man –
enjoying a discreet meal with his long-time lover – looked on, horrified. Alberto lurched towards them and fell,
and swept the glasses, cutlery, and dinner plates off their table to the ground with him. He hit the floor with a
thump and lay slumped, facedown on the carpet and motionless.
The woman from the table closest to where Alberto had fallen yelled out to her dumbstruck partner to help.
She had risen to her feet, and reached down to the poor man’s inert body, facedown amongst the remains of
the two dishes he’d been carrying. Amidst the nauseating amalgam of the food smeared into the thick pile of
the carpet and splattered all over Alberto were various-sized shards of broken glass and white china. The
woman looked down upon an eerie and grisly sight.
At once people stood up. Some rushed to offer assistance; others ghoulishly pushed and shoved their way
towards the circle that surrounded the fallen restaurateur. At first the waiters tried to carry on as normal, but
soon realised it was a waste of time. A sense of pandemonium had taken hold of the restaurant.
‘Excuse me,’ Ralph Launcier said with an authoritative tone as he pushed through the onlookers. He stopped
abruptly. He raised both his hands, placed one on each cheek, and let out an audible gasp.
‘I’ll take over, Mr Thompson,’ he said, as he stepped forward to where the middle-aged-man tried to raise
Alberto’s lifeless body from the sticky mess beneath and around him. Within a few seconds, Ralph had pulled
Alberto up to a sitting position.
‘Could I ask you to move further away,’ Ralph said with a touch of annoyance to the circle of people who had
gathered to watch.
Most looked embarrassed. ‘Of course,’ ‘yes,’ and ‘I’m sorry,’ they all mumbled as they shuffled away. Some
took the hint, and started to walk slowly back to their tables, others stood in cliques about a metre away and
pretended not to look as they gossiped and speculated about Alberto. The consensus was that he had died.
A man and a woman, with bright and expectant expressions, entered the restaurant at the front door. They
stopped at the spot where normally Alberto or Ralph would greet them. They glanced around, and then back at
each other. Both looked bewildered and confused. One of the diners sidled up to them and passed on his view,
in hushed tones, of what had taken place. Shocked horror appeared on the couple’s faces. They said a few
words quietly to each other and left. A few customers, who had seen them leave, took it as their own cue to
depart. Some people followed. Most stood around in small groups as though they expected some sort of
announcement. Faintly, in the distance, an ambulance siren could be heard.
After a few minutes, Ralph reappeared from the kitchen. He walked in silence to the front of the restaurant,
the place where Alberto or he would stand to greet customers. The sound of his loafers on the carpet echoed
around the room. He turned to face his audience. There was no need to cough or appeal for silence. All eyes
were on him. His bony face was colourless; his tall, lean frame – normally so erect and positive – appeared
slightly stooped. His cropped, grey hair, usually well kept, appeared ruffled. He stroked his three-day stubble,
and started to speak. He looked all of his thirty-eight years.
‘I’m sorry to have to tell you all that Albert Laurenzo, who I’m sure most of you know as the respected and
hard-working owner…,’ Ralph spluttered. He took a sip of water to regain his composure, ‘of this wonderful
restaurant, collapsed just now, and is still unconscious.’
‘Is he dead?’ someone chirped from the back of the crowd. Heads turned to see who had asked the question.
Then, in unison, they all turned back to look at Ralph.
The noise of the ambulance siren grew louder, making it impossible for Ralph to be heard. All of a sudden it
stopped. The only sound to be heard was the noise of the vehicle’s tyres on the gravel as it came to a halt
‘I don’t know; I’m not a doctor,’ Ralph finally responded, and broke the expectant silence that followed the
ambulance’s arrival. He heard a noise and turned. Two paramedics had rushed in through the kitchen door.