Author Anthony Bourdain is a talented chef whose two previous thrillers (Bone in the Throat
, Gone Bamboo
) were seasoned with the kind of culinary details that delighted the Food Channel-loving fans of his successful nonfiction books. The foodies will slaver over a wonderfully wrought scene in his latest caper novel--it's set at a chic Manhattan restaurant where a gourmand gangster with a picky palate turns the chef's menu upside down and stiffs the poor waiter who has to accommodate him. But the rest of this otherwise slight and unseasoned novel doesn't live up to that wonderful appetizer. Its protagonist is Bobby Gold, an ex-con who works as a security guard at Eddie Fish's Nightclub and is involved with a sexy sous-chef named Nikki whose preparation of a special meal for her lover reads like Bourdain's version of foreplay. But when Nikki rips off the restaurant receipts and Bobby gets on the wrong side of a mob plan to kill Eddie's appetite for good while recouping the money, Bourdain's plotting goes sour and the ending fails to satisfy. Still, it's a nice side dish to go with a good cookbook, or even one of the author's zany true stories of what goes on behind the swinging doors of many real-life restaurants (Kitchen Confidential
, A Cook's Tour
). --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
With the same explosive energy and irreverent humor with which he described the behind-the-scenes affairs of the restaurant industry in Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain revisits some of the themes that made him famous: passion, food and violence. The novel (Bourdain's third, after Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo) tells the story of Bobby Gold, probably the world's most unlikely gangster. A nice Jewish pre-med student implicated in a drug deal gone bad, Bobby goes to prison for 10 years and emerges with an entirely different set of uses for his knowledge of anatomy. Once released, he goes to work for his old friend Eddie Fish, a mobster turned nightclub owner, and falls in love with Nikki, a boisterous sous-chef with dangerous ambitions. Bobby and Nikki get involved in a botched robbery, forcing both to run for their lives. Their seedy shenanigans are wittily chronicled by Bourdain, in his nouveau hard-boiled prose ("'You want truffle jiz? Get your own truffle jiz, cabron' "). In one memorable set piece, Bobby engages in multiple pages of rueful conversation with an old fish wholesaler who's late on a payment to Eddie and knows he's about to be worked over (" `I get to pick the arm?' `Sure,' said Bobby. `Your choice. You pick it' "). Readers will once again be delighted by Bourdain's charming, rugged sensibility, like a modern-day Damon Runyon, and his gourmet blend of wit, suspense and style.
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