In The Flavorist by Kevin Urban, Allen Hale is a man in a billion. His incredible olfactory abilities and his talent of discerning every chemical and compound that goes into the making of a food product has made him renowned and envied world-wide. He is a flavorist, working in the candy industry. When he is surprisingly, to him, invited to the launch of a special new chocolate, in Belgium, by the famous and wealthy chocolatier, Adolf Van De Groot he absolutely destroys his welcome at the function and his host’s temper by tasting the new chocolate and immediately declaring it to be “rather good” for an imitation chocolate. At the function that he is rudely tossed out from, he meets Richard Harden, a CIA operative who is investigating Van De Groot for a suspected biological weapon that he is supposedly developing. When Harden recruits Hale for his scientific expertise all hell will break loose, as Van De Groot and his loyal henchman, Victor look to derail the investigation before it even begins and let loose their weapon on the world.
The Flavorist is a thriller in the grand style and is action-packed from start to end. Author Kevin Urban has created some archetypal characters that play their roles according to the standard rules. The arch-nemesis Van De Groot is a man bordering on insanity and well-written, especially with the suggested but subtle relationship that clearly exists between him and his No.1 henchman, Victor that leads to some interesting scenes and encounters later in the story. The tale takes us from Belgium to the South Pacific, the Amazonian jungle and the broad savannahs of southern Africa. The character of Harden especially and his relationship with the transitioning Maxi was something different in a thriller and added some needed levity and humanity to the non-stop action. For me, the many coincidences and synchronicities in the tale were a little overdone, but in general this was a satisfying and exciting read, with a touch of humour along the way. If you like thrillers that are not massive reads then The Flavorist will definitely appeal to you.