French Pressed


While it is widely recognized that New York City is crowded, costly, competitive, and occasionally downright dangerous, New York is also a foodie mecca. It’s the kind of town where you can attend an open-to-the-public culinary talk and find yourself sitting next to a young Cordon Bleu graduate while listening to legendary chef Jacques Pepin speak extemporaneously about such things as butchering a chicken. The aforementioned 92nd Street Y restaurant panel along with my two decades of speaking with restaurant professionals while dining out in New York were among the many experiences that contributed to the backdrop of this novel.

I would also like to acknowledge the gracious help of Douglas Snyder, general manager of Bin Fifty-Four Steak and Cellar. Doug is a consummate professional who chivalrously answered countless questions about running an upscale restaurant, while also giving me one of the finest dining experiences I’ve ever had.

A succulent shout-out additionally goes to Bin Fifty-Four’s executive chef, Andrew Bales, for giving me an after-hours tour of his efficiently run domain, a professional kitchen that consistently produces the most delicious fire-grilled steaks being served in America today.

Dear reader, if you ever find yourself in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, do not miss the dining experience at Bin Fifty-Four. And please be assured that the characters, situations, and murders in this book are completely fictitious figments of my imagination. Although Bin Fifty-Four is the scene for fabulous food and wine, it has never been ruled a crime scene!

Joe the Art of Coffee and Murray’s Cheese Shop, both located in Greenwich Village, New York, have also been great sources of information. My sincerest thanks go out to them, as well. If you are ever in New York’s West Village, these first-rate establishments are a genuine delight to visit—you might even see me there.

My special thanks also go out to editor Katie Day, executive editor Wendy McCurdy, and literary agent John Talbot for making my job so much easier.

Last but in no way least, I’d like to thank the roasters at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, North Carolina, for their inspiration, as well as their superior beans. If anyone knows and loves coffee, it’s the intrepid coffee hunter Peter Giuliano, coffee director of Counter Culture. To learn more about the coffees mentioned in this book and the art of making them, drop by my virtual Village Blend coffeehouse at:

Where coffee and crime are always brewing.

“You can tell when you have crossed the frontier…because of the badness of the coffee.”

—Edward VII (1841–1910)

“Food and sex…what else is there?”

—Wolfgang Puck


STABBING flesh was no big deal. That was the way to think about it. The boy was just another piece of meat…

From across the dark avenue, the killer stood, expression grim. There were three stories in the redbrick building, six apartments, a roofless porch. The boy was alone on the highest floor. Through bright windows, the killer watched him pacing. He looked like an animal, like panicked game.

This wasn’t something the killer wanted, but the decision had been made. Now time was a slow freeze and the waiting was unbearable on this dank, noisy street. Pub crawlers stumbled along littered sidewalks, Latino teens clustered amid grimy subway girders, and cop cars patrolled too visibly beneath the Number 7 line’s elevated tracks.

The killer hugged shadows, tried to stay hidden, maneuver some shelter from the pitiless wind. Glacial gusts continued to whip down Roosevelt, straight off the East River a mile away. Manhattan had been warmer, the killer thought. Queens was an ice cave, its buildings too low to dull the lash.

Finally, on the street, an opportunity came: a take-out delivery for someone