BONE IN THE THROAT

Manhattan chef-turned-fiction-writer Bourdain pens a first novel about murder and the Mob that makes a fair appetizer but no main course. Tommy is the second chef at the Dreadnaught Grill. His father was a made-guy with the Mob, but Tommy has managed to keep clear of any ``family'' entanglements. Harvey, who owns the Dreadnaught, owes big money to Tommy's uncle, a hit man named Sally who's also a loan shark. Harvey is weeks behind on his interest payments, with Sally applying lots of muscle. What Sally doesn't know, however, is that the Dreadnaught is a federal sting operation designed to snare racketeers like him. Sally approaches Tommy for a ``favor'': He wants to use the restaurant as a meeting place. Tommy eventually agrees, only to watch Sally and a friend murder and then dismember a man. Now Tommy is in way deep, and just in time for the feds to take a serious interest in him. They want his testimony on the murder, but Tommy can't narc on a relative—especially one who's a homicidal animal. Pressured by both sides, he also feels guilty over the murder. All of this could be compelling enough—if the book wasn't a catalogue of first-novel mistakes. The dialogue is usually flabby (``I wanna follow him,'' says a detective watching the Dreadnaught. ``Maybe he's runnin' an errand,'' says his partner. ``Maybe he is. Maybe he's runnin' an errand for Uncle Sally.'' ``Maybe he's runnin' out for a head of lettuce''); and, meanwhile, the plot gets sidetracked into very secondary concerns, like the head chef's struggle with heroin and entrance into a methadone program. Worst of all, though, the ending is a big disappointment: too easy, and totally anticlimactic. Great descriptions of food. But despite some very graphic violence, not as sharp, hard, or mean as the genre demands.

Pub Date: June 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-43552-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop...

WINTERKILL

The latest in an award-winning series set in the Bighorn Mountains (Savage Run, 2002, etc.).

Minutes after Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett arrests Lamar Gardiner, District Supervisor for the Twelve Sleep National Forest, for firing into a herd of elk, killing seven animals and blindly continuing to reload with cigarettes after he runs out of shells, Gardiner manages to handcuff Joe to his steering wheel and bolt off into a winter storm, only to turn up pinned to a tree with a pair of arrows, his throat cut. And things get even messier from that point on. The attack on a federal agent, together with reports that the Nation of the Rocky Mountain Sovereign Citizens has established an encampment in Twelve Sleep, brings gung-ho US Forest Service investigator Melinda Strickland and FBI sharpshooter Dick Munker, a veteran of Waco and Ruby Ridge, to town. Strickland maintains that she’s just trying to get justice for a murdered official, but she seems awfully eager to tie the perp to the Sovereigns. By the time Joe arrests one of Gardiner’s disappointing killers and identifies the other, Strickland and Munker are already planning an all-out attack on the encampment. The prospect is a personal nightmare for Joe, since Jeannie Keeley, the drifter whose abandoned daughter April Joe and his wife have been trying to adopt, has reclaimed April and spirited her off to the dubious shelter of the Sovereigns.

The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop action and his ability to see every side of the most divisive issues in the West.

Pub Date: May 12, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15045-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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