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Soul Kitchen: A Novel Paperback – July 25, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
Book 4 of 5 in the Rickey and G-Man Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chefs (and lovers) John Rickey and Gary "G-man" Stubbs (first appearing in Liquor and Prime) are once again involved in drama and suspense at their trendy eatery, Liquor. Chef Milford Goodman, an old friend of Rickey's, shows up after a 10-year prison stint for murder (of a restaurant owner) ends, thanks to a retrial acquittal. Just then, as it turns out, the current chef, Tanker, quits in a huff. Milford takes over, and through him, Rickey meets a manipulative, pill-pushing doctor named Lamotte, who pressures Rickey to join a restaurant venture, Soul Kitchen, involving a shady local businessman-investor, Clancy Fairbairn. Rickey, hooked on Lamotte-supplied Vicodin and wanting to give Milford the break he needs to become a top chef, agrees, various complications ensue, and the deal ends in tragedy. Throughout, Brite demonstrates a deep passion for and knowledge of New Orleans' food scene, and winningly sends up the city's wealthy elite, who "were like great dark sea creatures circling below the water's surface." The novel is brisk and entertaining, and manages to deal sharply with homophobia and racism amid a frothy plot. The novel was completed, Brite notes, the night before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city where she was born and now lives with her chef husband. An open-ended conclusion hints at another installment to come. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

John Rickey and G-Man Stubbs have beaten the odds and are into their third year running the highly successful restaurant Liquor, a New Orleans eatery where everything on the menu is prepared with booze. Following Prime (2004) and Liquor (2005), this latest in Brite's innovative comic crime series continues to expand her vision of life on the foodie fast track. After spending 10 years in Angola for a crime he didn't commit, Milford Goodman, who was once one of the hottest chefs in the business, gets a new start with the help of Rickey and G-Man. What initially looks like a sweetheart deal helping Milford set up a state-of-the-art kitchen in a casino quickly starts to go south, as treachery and Old World evils are added to the menu. As with the earlier two novels, the key character in the book remains the city itself, with high times, hardball politics, and plenty of mayhem added to the menu as daily specials. The novel was completed on the night before Hurricane Katrina hit; fans will be waiting to see how Rickey and G-Man cope with post-Katrina New Orleans. Elliott Swanson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307237656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237651
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stacey Scott on July 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well, I'm a longtime fan of all of Brite's work have been eagerly awaiting Soul Kitchen since I first saw the preorder page here on Amazon. By a fortunate accident, I managed to get my copy of Soul Kitchen several days early (not that I'm complaining), so yay I get to be one of the first to review it here.

First of all, the protagonists Rickey and G-man and are as lovable as ever and it's their sweet, subtle relationship that keeps me going back for more. Brite never fails to deliver with wonderful interaction between them that can go from making me cry to going all warm and fuzzy (multiples times with the same book, in some cases) with these two. Soul Kitchen delivers on that mark.

I also liked the aspect of racism and homophobia and the way that they are viewed from both sides. All of her characters offer diverse insights and the book makes you think about your own stance on certain issues from time to time, or at least it made me think. But don't worry, it's not preachy by any means. The "have gays suffered the same way black have" issue is still one I'm not 100% sure how I feel about. It's new territory for a Brite novel, so congrats on pushing forward rather than backtracking old ground PBZ. =)

The plot was good, the new crooked villain was not quite as interesting as Prime's but not as annoying as Liquor's. I've read before that people think her villains often lack luster, and being a big villain fan I should probably care, but overly intruiging bad guys would most likely take away from the heart of the series, so I'm not complaining.
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Format: Paperback
Poppy Z. Brite, Soul Kitchen (Three Rivers Press, 2006)

The Rickey and G-Man series, now in its third or fourth book (depending on to whom one talks; there has been debate for what seems like ages about whether The Value of X can be soncidered the first book in the series or not), continues on apace, and as fine as it's ever been. Liquor has now been a going concern for three years, and is still on top of the world, despite what seem to be neverending problems, both personal and professional, for the pair (Rickey more so than G-Man, natch). This time, the problems start when Milford Goodman, an ex-con framed for the murder of his last employer, comes in looking for a job. Rickey remembers him as a brilliant chef, and hires him-- much to the chagrin of a number of prominent townsfolk. When one of Rickey's regulars approaches him with the idea of consulting for a restaurant the regular is planning on opening on a floating casino, Rickey nominates Milford as the head chef. All well and good, until they find out one of the place's silent partners is connected to Milford's last employer's death.

None of the above is a spoiler, by the way, though it takes you about halfway through the novel; it's no more than you'll find out reading the back cover copy. Brite has once again given us a fun plot, some wonderful new characters, subplots to complicate things, and a smash-bang climax that will have you alternately laughing and cowering, but what she really has offered us in this series, what really makes it worth reading, is a stable of complex, well-drawn characters going about their daily business (what Maureen Corrigan calls a "work novel," at least in part). And that daily business is very, very interesting. If you like food-- and who doesn't?
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Format: Paperback
The LIQUOR books continue and SOUL KITCHEN is a truly fine edition to the series. I completely admit to being hooked on the lives of Rickey and G-man due to the hard-won way their author, Poppy Z. Brite, brings them to life. There is a low-country, unhurried and vernacular-perfect yet completely contemporary elegance to her prose that only comes from intense hard work and much agonizing over each sentence. While many authors are content to distractedly bang out serial novels once an acceptable groove has been found, Brite is one of the rare ones that really believes her creations deserve no less than the best. The attention to detail and the fact her characters live on in my head long after I close the cover means, at least to this reader, that she's one of the rare ones who truly can write about anything she darn well pleases and that will certainly please anyone that appreciates a good read.

In SOUL KITCHEN, I was pleased and proud to find that Rickey and G-man have not only had further adventures in the delightfully well-told restaurant world but also have grown emotionally. They've changed in that way many real people wish they could, by facing personal and professional challenges head-on and rising to them, if not rising over them. There are recaps of some of the events in earlier books and I find them to be like looking at favorite pictures again. They help to tie the lives of the characters together in a way that some other authors burden the reader with doing. By including relevant reminders of which chef's knives are on the mantelpieces (so to speak,) it helps to know where things might go in SOUL KITCHEN.
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