Bone in the Throat

Just finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s Bone in the Throat. This is his first fictional novel about a sous chef and his uncle who belonged to the mob.

The book opens with a prologue describing a medical examiner doing an autopsy of a dead body found floating on a New Jersey river. Then the FBI, the DA’s office, and other people came rushing in and started bickering. Why were they bickering? Who was this dead man?

Then the book chapters open to the world of Sally Wig and his nephew Tommy Pagana in Manhattan’s Little Italy.

Sally was a member of the mob who collected money from restaurant owners like Harvey, who owed money from the mob’s boss to keep his failing restaurant afloat.

Tommy is a sous chef in Dreadnaught, a bar and restaurant owned by Harvey. He considers his executive chef, Michael (a drug addict, too), as his friend. Tommy got this job with the help of his Uncle Sally, thus he owed him a debt of gratitude.

Tommy lost his father at an early age, so it was Uncle Sally, his mother’s brother, who supported him. But having experienced what it was inside the mob, Tommy decided to strike out on his own as a chef.

However, when Uncle Sally asked him for a favor, Tommy — being unwittingly inside a mafia-based culinary industry — found himself in a middle of a big-time crime.

Being followed by the FBI on one hand, and having Uncle Sally and the mob on the other, Tommy struggled. Will he follow his conscience to do what is right? Or will he keep silent to stay alive?

Reading the book is like learning the culinary culture among restauranteurs and chefs. I kept on consulting the dictionary for the meaning of the French words I’ve read which I discover were either a food item or a cooking technique.

I used to watch Anthony Bourdain on CNN’s Parts Unknown and his other culinary shows that I was already used to his voice. Thus, while reading, I couldn’t help but hear him in his irreverent, wry humor. It’s an easy read, too.

However, I’ve noticed that this Kindle version has several typographical errors which could be due to manual typing from the 1995 book version to its electronic form in 2000.

I’m going to give my rating as 4 out of 5 stars.