Murder on the Gravy Train

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9780060183905: Murder on the Gravy Train

The most feared woman in Washington, Phyllis Richman, Washington Post restaurant and food critic, serves up the delicious second course to her successful debut novel, The Butter Did It.

In Murder on the Gravy Train, Chas Wheatley, a food writer with a taste for sleuthing, takes on the scandalous world of Washington tongue waggers and the deep-throated secrets of the restaurant business.

Researching her new column, Chas discovers something is rotten with Washington's most popular new restaurant when the head chef goes missing, Chas becomes highly suspicious: Not only is the food suffering, but no one is willing to give her a straight answer as to his whereabouts.

Bodies begin to surface around the nation's capital, confounding the police. But with Chas's clever eye for detail, her love of good gossip, her talent for digging up the truth, and her connections in the newspaper and culinary worlds, she is compelled to delve deeper into the underbelly of the business--and onto a twisted trail of deceit, blackmail, and murder.

Once again, Phyllis Richman offers an insider's glimpse into the fascinating and glamorous world of America's finest restaurants, wrapping it in a delectable tale of mystery, murder, and danger.

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Review:

Add to the burgeoning cohort of culinary-themed mysteries Phyllis Richman's Murder on the Gravy Train, which provides a second outing for her restaurant reviewer-sleuth, Chas (née Charlotte Sue) Wheatley.

Richman, the restaurant reviewer for The Washington Post, is ideally suited to supply a vivid glimpse of the terrain where big-city culinary and newspaper worlds intersect, and offers a tempting brew of the pleasures and politics of both. Added to the mix is a tale of blackmail, extortion, spying, corruption, and (let's not forget) murder--several times over.

When the chef at one of Washington's most popular new restaurants disappears, Wheatley's curiosity is piqued. No one is forthcoming about his whereabouts, and, almost worse, the restaurant's food, minus the chef, is terribly off. Wheatley takes it upon herself to track down the chef and discovers a widening pool of foul play. In her search, we learn about the illicit side of the restaurant business (readers will think twice about ordering bottled water when they dine out next), and the often-nasty machinations of newsroom life (spying and story thievery). We are also exposed to the bureaucratic yet gruesome grind of a typical homicide department (decayed bodies without ID, for example).

Richman's narrative reads like a semi-autobiographical roman à clef: culinary insiders, real and would-be, will delight in her up-front-and-personal food-world asides. In fact, anyone who enjoys food and foul play--a heady combination--should relish this tale of both, nicely spun out by an author of appetite and imagination. --Arthur Boehm

About the Author:

Phyllis Richman has been the Washington Post food critic for more than twenty-two years. She's the author of the Agatha-nominated Washington bestselling dining books including The Washington Post Dining Guide. She been an award-winning syndicated columnist and food editor and serves on the executive committees of the James Beard Restaurant awards and the Julia Child awards. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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