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3.9 out of 5 stars
Bone in the Throat
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78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was surprised at how the book held my interest. Although I really enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, I somehow thought Bourdain's writing ability might not cross over to fiction. This isn't a mystery at all; it might be better to call it crime fiction. His writing is direct and understated, no hyperbole, no "creative writing" attempts. For instance when he describes sex he uses straightforward and understated rather than overdone language, and it is much more effective than more blowsy prose. I like his sentence structure and choice of words. I could see the action and the characters very clearly in my mind while reading the book and didn't want to put it down. Warning though: this is pretty violent stuff.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Set in the Bronx and Brooklyn, this is a grisly and graphic story of mob murder, dismemberment, and torture, along with the businesses of protection, loansharking, and money laundering. Tommy Pagano, the sous-chef at a small restaurant, who was cared for as a child by his mob-connected uncle Sal Pitera, finds himself up to his prime rib in dangerous mob business when Sally wants payback. Sandwiched between bloodthirsty racketeers on one side and equally threatening and sinister investigators who want him to give up Sally and his "friends" on the other side, Tommy has more than ample reason to fear for his life.

Suspense and horror are leavened throughout by humor, which comes mainly from absurdities--a hitman standing naked while he dismembers a body in order to protect his clothes, a chef upset because someone used his kitchen knife instead of a boning knife, a mobster telling a hitman that his actions were "bush." This is primarily is a fast-paced story of murder and mayhem, with humor on the side and lots of insights into the restaurant business. Local color, realistic-sounding (and often funny) wise-guy dialogue, an engaging main character with whom we sympathize, and investigators who are sometimes as venal as the men they investigate will keep you reading well into the night. Mary Whipple
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Let's Face it the gangster genre needed some help. Not since Steve Thayer's "Saint Mudd" has there been a solid mafia based novel. I stumbled upon Anthony Bourdain's and found his first novel, "Bone in the Throat" full of vivid characters that jump off the page, a story line that was very tight and not watered down, which also has a good solid pace.
The story revolves around Tommy Pagano who after losing his father due to mob ties, decides to try something else. Tommy refuses his Uncle Sal's offer to join the family business and chases down his dream of becoming a famous chef. Tommy however lands a job as a sous-chef at a restaurant, which his Uncle does business at. Tommy ends up doing one (against his better judgment) for his uncle and quickly finds himself in the middle of an FBI investigation. Tommy's friends, mainly Chef Ricard find themselves being pinched for information. Tommy faces hard time, and if he talks he knows what will happen next.
To find out what happens I strongly recommend picking up "Bone in the Throat". It is a true treat for those who enjoy mafia fiction. Even those who don't will enjoy the colorful characters, awesome dialogue and fast paced story.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
We learn what a mise-en-place is and get a graphic description of cleaning a squid. As a matter of fact, we learn a lot about the restaurant business from purchasing to personnel to controlling cost. The author is a certified expert at this and the next time you go to a restaurant you probably look at it with different eyes (and leave a better tip).
But this book is supposed to be a mystery, and so it is - in a way. It is an absolutely hilarious sendup of small-time and small-brained mafia gangsters. From Sally the Wig to Charley Wagons to Skinny they act like the book tells them to: Got to follow the rules! No wonder it gets them into trouble. Only their methods of maiming and killing seems to be innovative.
This is a satire you don't want to miss.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ok, I'll can the bad cooking humor. This is a fun, fast read -- good situations, great ear for language, nicely spiced (sorry) with sex and violence -- and available in paperback. And, as a bonus, if you read this after "Kitchen Confidential" (as I did) you can have fun picking out what bits were based on Bourdain's own sordid adventures. What are you waiting for?
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The best parts of the book are the semi-autobiographical elements which are probably lifted from the author's career as a chef. The convuluted plot includes dealings with the mafia, and ends pretty unsatisfactorily.
Where the author excels is entertaining the reader with tales about the sex, drugs, and criminal behavior, and he's only talking about the restaurant staff. He let's us in on the secrets behind how food is delivered to your table at dinner time.
For a better look behind the restaurant business, I recommend reading his non-fiction works Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Anthony Bourdain has struck gold with his venture into fiction writing. Bone in the Throat is a wonderfully delightful romp through the world of mobsters and food service, which Bourdain has done a masterful job of intertwining. Not being personally inclined to read much fiction, I read this based on the quality of Bourdain's non-fiction works, and was very pleased. I'm looking forward to reading his other fiction work, Gone Bamboo, and am anxiously hoping that he writes some more, be it fiction or non-fiction. This guy has got real talent!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
As the NYTBR said, this is a "deliciously depraved" novel. Tommy Pagana is a young sous-chef in an okay Manhattan restaurant. He likes his work, he hopes he has a future both with his career and with Cheryl the waitress, and he has tried for years to distance himself from his mobster relatives and their friends -- especially his Uncle Salvatore, a mid-level wiseguy who yearns to be "straightened out" by the higher-ups. The restaurant is run by Harvey, a Jewish ex-dentist who's into the local mob for serious money, plus he has another loan from a turf-encroaching bunch from Brooklyn. Only Harvey is also an informant for the FBI, which is trying to stir things up just to see what shakes loose. Then there's Michael the junkie chef, Tommy's friend and boss, who is also put to work by the feds, and there's Al the special agent, who really doesn't care what happens to any of them as long as they bring him something to make a case out of. Then Uncle Sally pushes the reluctant Tommy into allowing him to use the restaurant for a secret meeting -- which turns into a homicide, witnessed by Tommy, . . . who is now also a person of interest to law enforcement. What to do? How to stay both alive and out of prison, yet not have to rat out his uncle, which would break his mother's heart? These hoods aren't Donald Westlake's comic bumblers, either. In fact, their workaday attitude toward what they do, including murder, is what makes them decidedly scary. (The NYPD detectives, on the other hand, hardly come off as Lenny Brisco. . . .) Bourdain has a real ear for the nuances of New York style and conversation, plus a gift for describing life in the kitchen, that make the whole thing ring true. So why hasn't this terrific book been made into a film?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
A NY chef for 30+ years his favorite books are crime dramas like "the friends of eddie coyle". This is his version of a crime drama but instead of writing from a legal or law enforcement perspective he writes what he knows about. The not so glamorous underbelly of the restaurant world. The focus of the story is tommy an Italian American sous chef who is serious about haute French cuisine. He develops a close friendship with his coked out chef who he admires for his knowledge and skill in the kitchen. The problem with tommy is that his sleezy mafia uncle gets him in deep and he never knows that the restaurant he works in is a set up for the feds to put guys like his uncle away.

Like any good crime drama it is gritty and rough. You find yourself feeling for tommy and his, predictament and despising the brutal mobsters. Bourdain might have spent almost all of his adult life in the kitchen but he doesn't back off at all in depicting violence. It won't take you long to read this book because once you start it is hard to stop a real page turner.

I believe bourdain's personality exists in both the tommy and the chef characters. The chef like tony is part French and has a drug problem something that tony admitted he once had in "Kitchen Confidental". But the tommy character is a punk rock loving kid who maybe resembles tony in his earlier days. Certainly there are some autobiographical moments here and the restaurant name is the same as the first restaurant tony worked at in provincetown. The dreadnaught..
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Anthony Bourdain, by trade an executive chef in NYC, has written a behind the scenes look at restaurants, with a few members of the mob, the FBI, and other assorted law enforcement agencies thrown in the pot. Bourdain spices up this tale of a young chef caught up in a FBI sting operation targeted at organized crime in NYC with numerous scenes of mouth watering food preparation scenes. The mob characters sometimes behave too much like cartoon versions of the real thing, but the young protoganist, an aspiring chef who happens to be the nephew of mobster Sally Wig (an overweight loan shark, knee breaker, and sloppy eater) is written as a real character looking to escape from his "Family" roots. The frequenly humorous plot is mixed with occasional violence, several interesting supporting characters, and more than a few things you probably don't want to know about restaurants.
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