“Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves” by Dave Lowry (Mariner Books, 288 pages, in stores)
Dave Lowry is a restaurant critic with a keen eye for detail, and his passion for food is evident throughout his fiction debut, “Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves.”
Feeling out of sorts and as if he’s on the wrong life path, Tucker drops out of college and embarks on a road trip from New England to St. Louis. His passion is cooking — particularly Chinese food — and he’s hoping an old friend in St. Louis can help him get a job.
At a rest stop along the way, he overhears a stranded traveler speaking Mandarin into her phone. He’s picked up some of the language from working in Chinese restaurants, so he strikes up a conversation with her. They verbally dance for a while, each trying to figure out what angle the other is working, and then she accepts his proffered ride to her destination of Buffalo, N.Y.
It’s a long trip, and they spend a night at his parents’ house to rest and refresh. While she — Corrine — takes a shower, her phone rings incessantly. Tucker finally answers it, and what he hears on the other end is both cryptic and confusing. He hangs up and deletes the call, not wanting Corrine to know that he had been snooping.
Back on the road, he learns a little more about her. She works for a diamond distributor in Canada and is taking some time off to visit some friends in the states. He recalls what he heard on her phone the previous night and momentarily wonders if she’s being completely above-board, but he lets it pass. He finds himself somewhat smitten, and when he drops her off in Buffalo, he gives her his phone number and tells her to call if she ever needs anything.