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A Novel
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Two years after the opening of Liquor, New Orleans chefs Rickey and G-man are immersed in the life of their restaurant, enjoying a loyal cast of diners, and cooking great booze-laced food. All's well...
Two years after the opening of Liquor, New Orleans chefs Rickey and G-man are immersed in the life of their restaurant, enjoying a loyal cast of diners, and cooking great booze-laced food. All's well...
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Description-
  • Two years after the opening of Liquor, New Orleans chefs Rickey and G-man are immersed in the life of their restaurant, enjoying a loyal cast of diners, and cooking great booze-laced food. All's well until a bad review in a local paper not-so-subtly hints that their "silent" backer, celebrity chef Lenny Duveteaux, has ulterior motives. When Lenny is accused of serious criminal activity by eccentric D.A. Placide Treat, Rickey and G-man realize it may be time to end their dependence on him.

    When Rickey is offered a plum consulting job at a Dallas restaurant, it seems the perfect way to beef up their bank account. But taking the gig will mean a reunion with Cooper Stark, the older chef with whom Rickey shared an unsettling cocaine-fueled encounter back in culinary school, as well as dealing with gung-ho Texas businessman/restaurateur Frank Firestone. At G-man's urging, Rickey finally accepts the offer and revamps Firestone's menu to rave reviews.

    Home in New Orleans, Rickey has just settled back into his daily kitchen routine when he receives disturbing information that forces his return to Dallas. As Placide Treat's machinations grow ever more bizarre, G-man learns that there's more to the story--and that Rickey is in Texas-size danger.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One In another month the New Orleans lakefront would stink of fish, filth, and boat fuel, but right now it was a softly gorgeous spring day on Lakeshore Drive. Two young men sat on the seawall, their feet propped on the algae-slimed steps that descended into the murky brown water. Behind them, the levee rose up lush and green; before them was a vista of sailboats, small yachts, an occasional Coast Guard cutter, and far in the distance, the causeway that stretches twenty-four miles across Lake Pontchartrain to Mandeville, Covington, and other pretty little towns collectively known by sardonic city dwellers as "New Orleans North."

    One of the young men--his name was Gary Stubbs, but everyone called him G-man--had a cane pole baited with a rubber worm. He sat with his long legs crossed, the pole balanced on the fulcrum of his knee, and stared out at the boats on the sparkling water. His myopic eyes had always been painfully sensitive to light, and his omnipresent dark glasses could not ward off the beginnings of a headache. G-man wasn't the kind of person who got a lot of headaches, though two years of restaurant co-ownership had certainly increased his familiarity with them. Like many native New Orleanians, he had known how to fish for most of his life, but he was not especially dedicated to the practice. Today he would have been unlikely to notice if Leviathan had risen from the depths and clamped onto his line. His attention was wholly absorbed by a creased and partly crumpled piece of newspaper from which his friend was reading aloud.

    His friend was John Rickey, generally addressed as Rickey except by the younger and more timid underlings in the restaurant's kitchen, who just called him Chef. He read in a loud, fierce voice, gesticulating to emphasize points that struck him as particularly egregious. Rickey was very much the kind of person who got a lot of headaches.

    They had been together for more than a decade, had worked in kitchens all over New Orleans, had sautéed, chopped, guzzled, and scammed their way from fifteen-year-old dishwashers at a Lower Ninth Ward diner to chef-owners of an award-winning and successful restaurant. The restaurant had been Rickey's idea from the beginning, and though he had recently insisted on making G-man his co-chef rather than his sous chef, he was still in charge. Rickey always had to be in charge of everything he did; otherwise it didn't strike him as worth doing. He was sharp-featured and intense, handsome despite a slight tendency toward paunchiness. Even the article he was reading commented on his good looks, though that seemed to irk him as much as everything else about it.

    "'Like so many youthful ventures, Liquor is a fine example of why no one under thirty-five should be put in charge of anything.'" Liquor was their restaurant, so named because all the dishes featured that ingredient; as Rickey had predicted, it was an idea perfectly suited to this most alcoholic of cities. " 'The menu shows a certain ambition, verve, and raw talent. So may have the young Michelangelo's daubings, but they do not belong in the Louvre.' What the fuck is the Louvre, G? What does any of that mean?"

    "I think it's a museum," said G-man, hoping Rickey wouldn't pursue the other question, though he knew he might as well hope for Jesus Christ to come strolling across the lake and put a nice bull redfish on his line. He tilted his face up to the cloudless sky, concentrated on the lapping water, the bass on a passing car's stereo, the gulls screeching and mewing and saying "You! You!" It was relaxing out here, or would be if Rickey would let it. This was one of the places they'd always come for peace: from their families when...
About the Author-
  • Poppy Z. Brite's fiction set in the New Orleans restaurant world includes Liquor, The Value of X, and stories from her collection The Devil You Know. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, Chris, a chef, and is at work on another novel featuring Rickey and G-man.

Reviews-
  • New York Times

    "A high-end restaurant is--for any competent novelist--a gift that keeps on giving. The heat, the bickerings and intrigue, the pursuit of perfection, the dodgy money keeping it all afloat: the setting spawns plots ... Can the [Liquor] franchise sustain itself? The answer is yes."

  • Washington Post Book World "Brite's restless imagination leads her in a new, strikingly different direction, one that may surprise--and should delight--her longtime readers."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Steeped in spicy dialogue and N'awlins flavor . . . a behind-the-swinging-door peek into the world of chefs."
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    Crown Publishing Group
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