Friend of the Devil Book Review

Friend of the Devil Book Review

Title: Friend of the Devil
Author: Mark Spivak
Published: May 27, 2016, Black Opal Books
No. of Pages: 326
Cover Price: $13.49 Paperback, $3.99 Kindle

Mark Spivak, who is a journalist and award-winning food and wine writer, has released his first novel, Friend of the Devil. The novel tells the story of journalist David Fox, who travels to the famous restaurant, Chateau de la Mer in Palm Beach, Florida, to write a story on the restaurant’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The chef, Joseph Soderini de Avenzano, is the most famous chef in America, and it has been rumored that he sold his soul to the devil to become so. The novel goes back and forth from the 1940s when de Avenzano was young, to 1990 when he is running his restaurant, telling the story from both times. David is attracted to one of Avenzano’s hostesses, Alessandra della Gheradesca, and has an affair with her; she hates de Avenzano and wants to kill him. After the initial article on the twenty-fifth anniversary, David is persuaded to return to the resort and restaurant to write de Avenzano’s biography, and while doing so, learns what goes on in the restaurant behind the scenes.

The plot and characters have strong ties to the food and drink served at the restaurant, and the preparation of the dishes. Foodies will be intrigued, and everyone will find their mouth watering. The novel itself is a bit surreal, and the characters are a bit mysterious – by design, of course - and readers really won’t know who to trust and who is good or bad. The food isn’t the only thing going on at the restaurant; de Avenzano is a drug addict and isn’t available for interviews very often, someone is running drugs and using the restaurant as the main base, and characters who threaten de Avenzano and his operations end up suspiciously dead.

The suspense begins in the first chapter and builds throughout. Readers will not only be wondering if indeed de Avenzano did sell his soul, but also if David will be suspected of selling out internal secrets. David is a likeable character, and interviews several people who have been connected with the restaurant in the past, since de Avenzano doesn’t give him much information; these characters prove interesting, and readers will constantly trying to put the details together so they make sense. There are ups and downs, as well as surprises in this unique novel, and those readers who are searching for something different will want to pick this one up.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.

This book may be purchased at Amazon:
Friend of the Devil

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