Cover image for Murder on the gravy train
Murder on the gravy train
Richman, Phyllis C.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 243 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



The most feared woman in Washington, Phyllis Richman, Washington Post restaurant and food critic, serves up the delicious second course to her successful debut novel, The Butter Did It.

In Murder on the Gravy Train, Chas Wheatley, a food writer with a taste for sleuthing, takes on the scandalous world of Washington tongue waggers and the deep-throated secrets of the restaurant business.

Researching her new column, Chas discovers something is rotten with Washington's most popular new restaurant when the head chef goes missing, Chas becomes highly suspicious: Not only is the food suffering, but no one is willing to give her a straight answer as to his whereabouts.

Bodies begin to surface around the nation's capital, confounding the police. But with Chas's clever eye for detail, her love of good gossip, her talent for digging up the truth, and her connections in the newspaper and culinary worlds, she is compelled to delve deeper into the underbelly of the business--and onto a twisted trail of deceit, blackmail, and murder.

Once again, Phyllis Richman offers an insider's glimpse into the fascinating and glamorous world of America's finest restaurants, wrapping it in a delectable tale of mystery, murder, and danger.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Washington, D.C., restaurant reviewer Chas Wheatley (The Butter Did It) returns in this eye-opening expos‚ of price-gouging in the dining industry. After a disastrous blind date with a waiter who hints that he knows secrets about restaurant corruption, Chas's luck turns when her editor offers her a syndicated food column. Inspired by her date, she plans her inaugural piece as an investigation of the nefarious practices some restaurants use to bilk their customers. What she uncovers will make readers who regularly dine out more cautious: the scams range from well-publicized credit card ploys to little-known pressure tactics taught to waiters during special classes. As she goes about collecting information, Chas hears that a chef whose dishes she admires has been fired for beating up a female co-worker. Soon afterward, the woman's body is found in the Tidal Basin, and Chas's friend, homicide detective Homer Jones, takes up the case, arresting the chef for murder. Chas isn't convinced he's guilty, however, especially when she realizes that the morgue also holds the body of her blind dateÄthe waiter had been strangled and left without ID. Despite the distractions of her brief romance with a younger man and her dinners with Homer and his girlfriend, Chas finds time to sleuth to a successful conclusion. Blending mouth-watering descriptions of foods galore, subtle clues and a serious look at the responsibilities of restaurants, Richman whips up a frothy confection that, despite a bit of stiff writing here and there, should satiate most connoisseurs of food-oriented crime. Agent, Bob Barnett. Author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Don't let the cutesy title fool you into thinking this is another in a long line of fluffy culinary mysteries. Murder on the Gravy Train is set in Washington, DC, and the sleuth is the restaurant critic for the Washington Examiner. Chas Wheatley is a slightly overweight, middle-aged divorce whose brush with a blind date culled from a personal column lands her in the midst of a series of murders centered around a popular Washington restaurant. When she discovers the cigar lounge is bugged and an attempt is made on her life, Chas enlists the help of her friends a homicide investigator, another reporter, her daughter, and a handsome (and younger!) Lebanese taxi driver to uncover the identities of the blackmailers/murderers. What sets this story apart are the wonderful atmosphere and background descriptions of the mechanics of being a big-time critic and the professional jealousy rampant in any newsroom, as well as the underside of the restaurant biz. Susan O'Malley's smooth, involving narration is a big plus, and Blackstone is to be commended for using the book's colorful eye-catching cover art on its plastic cassette holder. Enthusiastically recommended for all libraries. Barbara Perkins, Irving P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.