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Wednesday 22 June 2016

☀ Friend of the Devil - Mark Spivak

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Friend of the Devil, a Culinary Thriller by (, Black Opal Books, 299 pages).

Don't miss our Guest Post by author Mark Spivak where he talks to us about the Background to Friend of the Devil.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below.  Read the first six chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Author Mark Spivak will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.  

Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Guest Post | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, cut a deal with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter 1

Mississippi, 1947:

“The man’s here.”
     The old Black woman delivered her pronouncement into the darkness of a back room--half in amusement, half in disgust. She then walked back across the front room of the cabin, her feet creaking on the wooden floor, to the place where the young man sat. A pot-bellied stove, streaked with soot, crackled in the opposite corner.
     “He be wit you in a minute.”
     “Thank you.”
     The white youth seemed strangely comfortable in this shack outside Clarksdale in rural Mississippi. The year was 1947, at the height of Jim Crow, at a time when the races never mingled.
     The young man had concocted an elaborate cover story and, with the confidence of his age, he believed he could explain himself if the wrong people found him here.
     “What you say your name is?” the woman asked.
     The woman laughed. “You a crazy-assed white boy, Joseph.”
     “Yes, ma’am,” he replied in a deep baritone, guttural and booming.“That may well be.”
     The old Black man shuffled out of the back room, moving slowly and deliberately. He was clad in overalls, and his silver hair framed a deeply lined and creased face. He glanced at Joseph and shook his head.
     “Let’s go out on the porch, boy.”
     They walked outside to the dilapidated wooden deck surrounding the front of the shack, and the old man settled in a rocking chair. He motioned for Joseph to sit beside him and regarded him with the same amusement his wife had displayed.
     “You a long way from home, ain’t you?”
     “I don’t really have a home, sir.”
     “Everybody got a home.” The old man chuckled. “Some folks just don’t know where it is.”
     “Maybe so.” Joseph shifted in his chair as he listened to the night sounds coming from the distance: crickets, the far-off howl of wolves, wind rustling the trees. Highway 61 and Highway 49 were out there, intersecting at the Crossroads. “So tell me, did you know Robert Johnson?”
     “Heard him sing once or twice, but that was a long time ago.”
     “What was he like?”
     “Crazy-assed, like you.” The old man chuckled again. “Knew his time was short, and couldn’t be bothered.”
     “Go on.”
     “Played the gittar pretty good. But it was that voice.” The old man paused. “It stuck witchoo. Couldn’t git it outta your head. It wasn’t pretty.” He shook his head. “Naw. Wasn’t pretty. Not at all.”
     “I know exactly what you mean.”
     Joseph had heard the voice, listening to scratchy old records on a friend’s Victrola. They were the only known recordings of Robert Johnson, the studio sessions done a few years before his death. The old man was right. The voice was plaintive and haunting, something you would always remember once you heard it. “That must have been amazing--hearing him in person.”
     “Wasn’t no fun, to tell you true. After the first couple times, I never went back.” He shook his head again. “Seems to me that life is hard enough sometimes without lookin’ for his kinda problems.”
     “Probably so.”
     The old man looked at Joseph closely. “What you need that kinda trouble for, boy?”
     “I want to be a success. I want to leave my mark on the world.”
     “Where’s your gittar?”
     “I don’t play, sir. That’s not what this is about. I want to be somebody.” Joseph paused. “I’m not sure what I want to do. I’ve done some kitchen work, and I like it. I’ve been thinking maybe I’ll open a restaurant someday.”
     “Shoot!” The old man exploded in laughter. “You want to open a restaurant, boy, you don’t need to be goin’ out there in the dead of night, lookin’ for trouble. Just fry yourself up a mess of chicken and be done with it.”
     “Sure,” said Joseph, laughing in spite of himself.
     There was a long silence, and the old man looked at him expectantly. Joseph reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out a small manila envelope, and handed it over.
     “Well, I’ll be,” the old man said as he counted the money. His eyes widened and his eyebrows arched. “There’s four hunnerd here. I done told you two hunnerd.”
     “I want you to have it. I think it’s fair.”
     “That’s a lot of money, boy. You don’t need to be doin’ that.”
     “I’m not here as a tourist, sir.” It was Joseph’s turn to stare at the old man. “It took me a long time to find you. I don’t want the movie set or the amusement park. I want the real thing.”
     “Careful what you wish for, now.”
     “Will you be going out with me?”
     “Shoot, no.” The old man shook his head. “These old legs couldn’t take me out there and back. And you wouldn’t want me, anyway. You don’t want some old man who got spooked at the sound of Johnson’s voice. It’s my son that’s goin’ with you.”
     “Are you sure?”
     “It got to be him, ’cause it got to be somebody who don’t take this stuff seriously. Somebody who ain’t gonna wake up in the middle of the night thirty years from now, thinkin’ ’bout it.” He reached over and patted Joseph on the shoulder. “Gotta be somebody with a pure heart.Somebody the man can’t touch.”
     “I see.”
     “I’ll git him for you.” The man paused and looked at Joseph. “You know, Johnson was no more than thirty when he died.”
     “He was twenty-seven, actually.”
     “How old you be?”
     “I just turned twenty-two.”
     “And that don’t spook you none?”
     “No, sir.”
     “You know what you should be spooked ’bout? If you had any sense, that is?”
     “What’s that, sir?”
     “How you gonna feel if you live to be as old as me? What you think gonna be in your head then?”
     “I guess I’ll have to take that chance.”
     “It’s your funeral either way, I ’spose.” He rose unsteadily and walked to the edge of the porch. “Willy,” he called. “William Earl, you git out here. It be showtime.”
     After a moment, a young Black man emerged from behind the shack, grinning broadly. He wore overalls like his father and radiated an aura of good humor that put Joseph immediately at ease. He looked no older than Joseph, but seemed to engulf everyone around him in boyish enthusiasm.
     “You wanna open yourself a restaurant,” the old man told Joseph, “this here is the boy you want. He can cook up anythin’, anytime, just the way you like it. He’ll make you a success.” He turned to his son.“You ready, boy?”
     “Yes, sir, born ready.”
     “All right then. You be careful out there.” He looked carefully at Joseph. “Good luck to you. I hope you git what you came for.”
     “Thank you, sir.”
     “Let’s go, baby.” Willy grinned, motioning for Joseph to follow him.“We got business.”

Friend of the Devil
Available NOW!

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About the Author

Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on He is the holder of the Certificate and Advanced diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. He is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). His first novel, Friend of the Devil, is published by Black Opal Books.

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Giveaway and Tour Stops

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Follow Friend of the Devil's tour at:

May 30: HarmonyKent
May 30: Christine Young
May 31: The Reading Addict
Jun 1: Where the Story Comes First
Jun 1: The Recipe Fairy
Jun 2: Blog of Jacey Holbrand
Jun 3: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Jun 3: With Love for Books
Jun 6: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
Jun 7: Lilac Reviews
Jun 7: Readeropolis
Jun 8: Fabulous and Brunette
Jun 9: Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews
Jun 9: Long and Short Reviews
Jun 10: It's Raining Books
Jun 13: Room With Books
Jun 13: Writer Wonderland
Jun 14: Welcome to My World of Dreams
Jun 15: The Avid Reader
Jun 15: Two Ends of the Pen
Jun 16: Booklover Sue
Jun 17: Nickie's Views and Interviews
Jun 17: fuonlyknew
Jun 20: Book Junkies Book Blog
Jun 21: Liz Gavin's Blog
Jun 21: LibriAmoriMiei ✍
Jun 22: BooksChatter
Jun 23: Natural Bri
Jun 24: The Cerebral Writer
Jun 24: Reading, Writing, and What not


Victoria Alexander said...

I loved the teaser, thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great read, hope I'll have a chance to read it soon!

Ally Swanson said...

I have added this book to my TBR list and look forward to reading this book!

Ally Swanson said...

I enjoyed reading the excerpt. This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.