vamysteryfan: (books)
[personal profile] vamysteryfan
I'd like to get back to posting short book reviews at least twice a month. My reading has slowed down some, but I still like mysteries and histories.

Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul Freedman. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.It's a social history, a gift to foodies (with all the photos), an exploration of American history, and more. Freedman chose 10 restaurants to act as lenses on the development of America. Delmonico was the first true restaurant and he uses it to track the transition of entertainment from home to outside dining. He focuses on Antoine's to discover  the African influence, as well as one of the more shameful aspects of American history. Schrafft's shows the rise of women dining out respectably. Howard Johnson's was made for the interstate highway system. Le Pavillon and its ilk shows the rise of French influence. Chez Panisse. exemplifies the farm to table movement. But it's so much more than that. It resonated with me personally because I could relate to at least some of the restaurants. I remember HoJo's and the ice cream and my mother being able to enjoy a Manhattan at the same time. I ate at the Cafe at Chez Panisse shortly after it opened. The service was abysmal but the food! I was too young for Schrafft's but I remember Chock Full o' Nuts. Freedman also discusses whether there is an American cuisine and the homogenization to American taste. !0 Restaurants is well worth reading from so many viewpoints.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye
by Michael Connolly. I finally got to read it and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Harry is now a part-time investigator for San Fernando as well as a private eye. The book combines the search for a serial rapist with the search for a possible missing heir. Los Angeles plays a pivotal role as usual. I need to read about the Arts District now. The book is beautifully written and tightly plotted. I love following Harry's internal world. There are some interesting snippets about Vietnam.

Clair DeWitt and the City of the Dead
by Sara Gran. It is set in New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina. Kind of depressing, because Katrina was so terrible. The book had a kind of surrealistic style that I'm not sure appealed. Lots of drugs and drinking and elliptical references, plus the sudden yet inevitable betrayal. I'll still try the next book in the series.

Murder in the Marais by Cara Black. First in the series, it is set in Paris around 2000. I kind of remember the politics of the era, which heavily influence the narrative. It's a very political mystery with roots going back to World War 2 and the Nazi occupation of Paris. Kind of depressing. I will try the next book in the series.
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