First of all, I must thank my family: my husband, Mark, who for the past three years
has yet to finish a mystery novel without saying, “Your book is a thousand times
better”; my children, Emma and Paul, who have been robbed of Thursday nights
Author: Claire M. Johnson
Experienced pastry chef Johnson whips up an insider's look at San Francisco's cut-throat restaurant trade. Cranky Mary Ryan has sunk a lot of time and talent into the in-vogue American Fare, the town's hottest spot, while grieving over her broken marriage. At work very early one morning, she steps on a laundry bag stuffed with the dead body of one of her employees. The investigation soon exposes all the dirty secrets that the food business would like to keep secret: the philandering chefs, the silly whims of the dining public, the hiring of illegal aliens, and the subsistence-living pay scale. Events begin to spiral that, in time, take out the restaurant's celebrity chef and force Mary to use her unique skills to uncover a poisonous scheme... Beat Until Stiff gives a frank view of the cooking/restaurant scene and explores why food has become theater, with all the waiters, the busboys, the chefs, and the dining public on stage, each with their own parts to learn and perform. Dessert is the last word, the amen of a meal. And Mary Ryan always has to have the last word. Hard edged, filled richly with restaurant lore, sharply characterized, this is a debut to savor.