Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Bone In The Throat" by Anthony Bourdain - Book Review


 (This review originally appeared on The Thursday Night Movie Club Message Board Sept 10, 2009 )

Returning to my catch – up of Anthony Bourdain’s writing, I recently finished this one – a novel, for a change of pace.

The story here is about an up and coming sous chef named Tommy Pagano whose life and livelihood are jeopardized when he unwittingly becomes involved in an FBI investigation of mob activity that occurred at the restaurant where he works. What complicates matters even more is the fact that he owes his job to his Uncle Sally, the mobster who put Tommy in the position of being witness to this crime in the first place. Although Tommy long ago renounced The Family Business in favor of trying to make an honest living as a chef, he cannot entirely escape it – in part because of his relatives, but also because so much of the NYC restaurant business is controlled by the mob.

Also putting the squeeze on Tommy is Michael, the heroin addicted chef for whom he works. Due to his long history of substance abuse issues, Michael is forced by an FBI agent to try to convince Tommy to either turn himself in or rat out his uncle to the agency. Between the pressure from Michael, the agent and his uncle’s “associates” who fear he may not remain quiet, Tommy soon realizes he’s in a no – win situation with no way out.

I found the book very entertaining and well written; Bourdain’s humor shines throughout, as well as his adoration of mob – related stories and fascination with his former career in restaurants. As lightweight as this is, I found it to be a good choice for a summer read – definitely something that would be good for a diversion during an airplane ride or while on vacation. Hedo Reunion devotees might well enjoy the book’s opening chapter, where a dead body washes up on the shores of the beach at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.