Sunshine Chief

Fiction - Literary
294 Pages
Reviewed on 11/04/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite

Renowned food writer, editor, and publisher of the magazine, Sunshine Trails, Horace Button arrives in Tucson aboard his vintage private railroad car, his small entourage in tow. He’s looking forward to co-hosting the annual Best Chef Tucson Jail-and-Bail gala with his good friend, Bunny Lorillard, but when he arrives at the police station to assume his role as honorary police chief, his presence is met with hostility from a few senior members of the police force. Ever the unwavering optimist, Horace nevertheless launches into the weekend festivities but everything soon comes to an abrupt halt when the honoree of the Best Chef title is found dead. Ironically, an inadvertent error soon has Horace in the actual role of acting police chief, much to the disgust of some members of the Tucson police force who are demanding his immediate resignation. Rather than cave in to their demands, Horace stubbornly decides to use his temporary powers of office to launch an investigation into the chef’s untimely death, convinced that foul play was involved, with little regard for the chaos he’s about to unleash on Tucson’s tight-knit culinary circles.

Eric Peterson has delivered the perfect combination of great storytelling and an irresistible protagonist in his witty whodunit, Sunshine Chief. As far as sequels go, Sunshine Chief nicely holds its own against its predecessor, The Dining Car. The well-thought-out story is made near irresistible, thanks to the lofty likes of Peterson’s main protagonist, Horace Button. Eternal optimist, social critic extraordinaire, Button is a man of many excesses who downs enough wine and spirits daily to put most mortals under the table while unapologetically devouring rich sauces and fatty foods with little care for his heart or his liver. Horace is the epitome of charm or can be as venomous as a snake if provoked, but what makes him so compelling is that he looks at the world just a bit differently than everyone else.

Of course, every good sleuth needs a trusty sidekick and in Horace’s case, he has a small entourage ready to do his bidding. His thirteen-year-old niece, Jane, temporarily suspended from school and along for the weekend with her friend, Florabelle, eagerly carry out Horace’s assignments under the supervision of his manservant, Pierre. Former college football star-turned-biographer, Jack Marshall, is Horace’s right hand, adept at driving or bartending when the situation calls for either one, while Jack’s wife, Wanda, is Horace’s chef, doling out her gastronomic delicacies and sage advice with equal aplomb. Together, they all make a colorful cast of characters that elevate Peterson’s story to the next level. A smart, witty mystery, Sunshine Chief will leave readers eagerly looking for their next fix in what will hopefully become a series starring Peterson’s inimitable protagonist.

Edith Wairimu

An editor-in-chief turned police chief investigates a ghastly murder that follows a big gala fundraiser in Sunshine Chief by Eric Peterson. Renowned food and wine writer and honorary police chief Horace Button travels to Arizona for The Best Chef Tucson Jail-and-Bail Weekend Gala. He journeys across the country in his vintage private railroad car, taking with him his butler, Jack, his chef, and a couple of other eccentric characters. The journey is marked by many interesting events, cheerful banter, and some disputes. On arrival in Arizona, Horace is reconnected with his long-time friend and darling of Tucson society, Bunny. Events take a turn when the gala’s Best Chef Tucson winner is found dead. Determined to prove that the chef’s death was a murder, Horace sets out to solve the case as the new police chief after his predecessor resigns.

As the main character in Eric Peterson’s Sunshine Chief, Horace is witty, loyal, and direct. His personality is seen through Jack’s eyes, whose perspective shapes the story. In contrast to his quirky, easy-going boss, Jack is more rigid. Other interesting characters in the book include Horace’s niece, who is having trouble in school, and her best friend. Though its main focus is the murder mystery, the journey to Arizona and the characters’ experiences along the way provide depth to the book. Horace’s keen observation becomes critical as he solves the murder mystery. I loved the story’s unpredictable twists and the suspense it contains in places where the murderer pursues other possible victims. There are also revelations included. The unexpected turns in Sunshine Chief by Eric Peterson are bound to captivate any fan of literary works.

Joanne Ang

Sunshine Chief is the sequel to The Dining Car, written by Eric Peterson. Sunshine Chief starts with Horace Button, an award-winning and highly appraised food writer for Sunshine Trails magazine, with a unique background as the chief of police for Tucson. Not to mention that Horace so happens to be rich, like… very rich, making him a unique 3 in 1 combo. When a charity event brought him back to Tucson, a twisted night turned everything upside down, forcing Horace to take on the role of chief of police again. Join Horace as he uncovers the real mystery, collecting bits and pieces of information in his own unique way to solve the ultimate case of the year. This book surely is a melting pot of adventure: a murder, an affair, lasting friendships, and fine foods!

Sunshine Chief is a unique take on a murder mystery novel brilliantly written by Eric Peterson. I really liked how the scene was set: extravagant and lavish from the get-go. The household setting reminded me of a more laid-back version of a royal family, except with more realism. Horace is definitely a memorable character from the way he leads his life in a carefree manner to his dedication in uncovering the mystery along with his virtues of being a good friend. Horace definitely has a lot of edge and character! I was also very amused by Florabelle; her character gave the book an air of comedy, which I appreciated. Overall, this book is truly a one-of-a-kind take on a food-loving murder mystery that will leave anyone amused and wanting more!