Fine dining

The Cook, by Wayne Macauley, Quercus, RRP£18.99, 304 pages

The Cook, Wayne Macauley’s third novel, is a marvellous experiment in voice. Zac, a 17-year-old Australian, has committed an undisclosed crime and confides his story in a breathless rush (“I don’t think it’s right to tell you what everybody done I won’t tell you what I done either”).

He is given a choice: either go to a young offenders’ institute or enrol in a scheme teaching rebellious teenagers how to cook. He opts for the latter, applies himself, and lands the job of live-in chef for a millionaire financier. Gradually, however, it becomes clear that Zac is not entirely rehabilitated.

The book is reminiscent of DBC Pierre’s Lights Out in Wonderland, which similarly assays fine dining and late capitalism from the perspective of a damaged and unreliable narrator. I enjoyed it immensely, although the ending – in which Zac is revealed as an unholy cross between Gordon Ramsay and Patrick Bateman – won’t be to everyone’s taste.

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