Neither this nor Bourdain's debut novel are groundbreaking crime novels. Having specifically been into the genre, though, it is clear that he is a great lover of crime fiction and somebody well versed in its tropes. This is fine! A great thing about genre is that it provides such tropes for people with peculiar perspectives or styles to take up and spin in their personal fashion.
Bourdain is still a ways from the height of his powers here. He is still very clearly trying to be somebody--see e.g. the naughty boy tone of the introduction written for, I assume, a reprinting of this book to catch the wave of Kitchen Confidential, and compare that to e.g. the better parts of A Cook's Tour only a short time but a great deal of experience later. That said, he is erudite, funny, and imaginative in his use of mob/crime genre tropes and this book is extremely readable/listenable, if also fairly disposable.
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