Penzler Pick, March 2000: Okay, okay, it's not a mystery. It's a recipe book. But these are recipes from some of the best storytellers of our time, so you can expect a little more than a list of the 435 ingredients of a first-rate cassoulet and the 23 steps requiring an equal number of hours to produce it.
No, here we have the recipes for such culinary challenges as Kinsey Millhone's Peanut Butter and Pickle sandwich, with secrets that include informing the would-be Paul Prudhomme that the peanut butter should be spread on a slice of bread, covered with sliced pickles, and then (and this could be the key to it all) covered with a second slice of bread. Whew! If you're not exhausted yet, there is also Susan Silverman's recipe from Robert B. Parker, who declined to provide anything more ambitious because a Spenser cookbook is in the works. (Note: It has been in the works for 15 years.) The recipe is for boiling water.
But there really are some superb recipes from a talented corps of writers who know how to cook, and there are delicious anecdotes, some sound advice on where and when to eat what you've just learned how to cook, and even recipes for foods you've never heard of (like Liza Cody's Bacon Buttie, the perfect tidbit that provides the thrill of risking a coronary).
Among the contributors are Lilian Jackson Braun, Donald E. Westlake, Anne Perry, Tony Hillerman, Carol O'Connell, Parnell Hall and, of course, Anthony Bourdain, whose hilarious culinary mysteries are a sidelight to his real life as a master chef. --Otto Penzler
Note: A portion of the profits from both books is being donated to Wholesaler to the Hungry,