Nicolas Freeling, best known for producing some of the finest of modern crime fiction, began his working life as an apprentice cook in a large French hotel. He continued cooking professionally for many years, and his enthusiasm for, and interest in, gastronomy in its broadest sense is at least equal to his passion for crime. Here, reprinted in a single volume, are his two splendid books of gastronomical memoir drawn from those experiences. Each is a delicious blend of the culinary and the literary, and include such recipes as cinnamon lamb stew and bouillabaisse, all charmingly floating about in a consistently entertaining text. The work is illustraited by the witty and winsome pen of John Lawerence, the perfect visual sauce for Freelin's savouries. Funny, wise, full of inspiration and delight, The Kitchen Book & The Cook Book will find a place close to every cook's hearth and heart.
That's from AMAZON not me because....
This is a book I bought for Phil last Christmas, thinking it would be right up his alley. I think it's still sitting on the bookshelf where I placed it then. Too bad. A good lesson. You can't always predict what books will capture someone's fancy. I may read it myself, liking Freeling as much as I do.
Picking out a book for anyone but my son is risky business. He reads it all. A very nice man, my son.
Ed Gorman is the author of BAD MOON RISING and many other novels. You can find him here.
Fake I.D. by Jason Starr
Jason Starr is the poet of pathological lives. In Fake I.D. he gives us Tony Russo, gambling addict and bartender/actor, who believes, despite enormous evidence to the contrary, that someday real soon now he will reap a bonanza with his gambling just as he knows that he will soon enough be King of Hollywood. Gold at the track and movie star pussy forever.
One of the ways he hopes to hurry his dreams along is by stealing ten thousand dollars from the bar where he works. He has a chance to buy a share of a race horse and thus become a (another fantasy) a gentleman of the horsey set (his daydream about standing in the winner's circle with a movie star lady practically going down on him is especially embarrassing and pathetic). But being the good businessman he is he takes the ten grand and goes to Vegas where he is real real sure he will play this into much much more. He returns home broke of course.
Being a good sociopath Tony must now replace the money he lost in Vegas. This quest, and it is nothing less, involves more stealing and not incidentally murder. Starr gives us a trio of women who become indelible in the reader's mind. My favorite is Janene. Like Frank, the man who owns the bar where Tony works, she is sensible, intelligent and honest. It is from her that he lifts jewelry.
Starr has one of those quintessential New York voices. Because Richard Price's Ladies' Man is one of my favorite novels I kept hearing riffs on that in this book especially when Starr was writing about the bar and the people who work there and hang out there. Starr has an almost surreal eye and ear for manners and he can be both witty and chilling at the same time. He's excellent with boozy conversation.
Starr is on record acknowledging his debt to certain of the paperbacks of the 1950s and 1960s and the pace and punch of his novel certainly demonstrate that affection especially when all of Tony's sweaty plans begun to unravel. But the book is wholly Starr's and it's a sound strong good one. So many writers try hard to replicate Jim Thompson by using similar material. Tony Russo's heart is as dark as any of Thomson's sociopaths but his environment and his style could not be more disimilar. Lew Ford wouldn't know what to make of him.
Because of his social eye and because of his ambition to include the wider world in his work, Jason Starr is among my favorites of the neo-noir writers. Fake I.D. is a gem of treachery.
Steve Lewis/Richard and Karen LaPorte