Blog Tour: Friend of the Devil by Mark Spivak

Title:Friend of the Devil
Author: Mark Spivak
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Pages: 325
Genre: Culinary Thriller

In 1990 some critics believe that America’smost celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, sold his soul to the Devil to achieve culinary greatness. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub,Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned afterthe Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on therestaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de laMer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano.The chef invites Fox to winter in Floridaand write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into therestaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean;the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner;the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven.As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucinationand reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

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  • Several years after theopening of Chateau de la Mer, the triumvirate of Avenzano, Walsh, and Rossappeared to be one big happy family, although there were rumors of strains inthe relationship.
    One night, at the heightof the Festival of Champagne, there was an incident. Ross, a notoriouswomanizer, was sipping Cristal with a redhead at the restaurant’s corner table.
    His wife slipped throughthe front door of the mansion, unannounced. Walking slowly through the diningroom, past the Medieval memorabilia and dramatic cast-iron griffins, shestrolled up to Ross’s table, took a revolver from her evening bag, and calmlyshot him through the heart.
    The ensuing chaos didmore to establish Joseph Soderini di Avenzano in the American imagination thanhis designer pasta, his Bedouin stuffed poussin,his recipes transposed from Etruscan or Old Genoese, or his library of tenthousand cookbooks.
    This was more than a goodmeal, after all. This was sex and death in Palm Beach.Even more intriguing was the chef’s refusal to comment on Ross after his death,except for informal and effusive eulogies in his famous baritone.
    “Watch that Cristal,”David’s friend Bill Grimaldi told him before he left Manhattan to do anassigned story on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Chateau de la Mer. “It’s akiller.”

    Mark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing inwine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writerfor the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications forexcellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as wellas the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on theworld of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog His work has appeared in National GeographicTraveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental andRitz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax.From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talkshow on the Palm Beach affiliate ofNational Public Radio.

    Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books:  Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History(Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread ina Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friendof the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a politicalthriller set during the invasion of Iraq.
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