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Eric Peterson
The Dining Car
Fresh from a public humiliation and in search of his true calling, former college football star Jack Marshall enlists as bartender on flamboyant food and wine writer Horace Button's vintage private railroad car, making a whistle-stop tour of America's gastronomic hotspots. Decked out in a white jacket, learning to mix perfect cocktails, young Jack is immersed in a style of living—and dining—he’d assumed was extinct. Striving to appease the eccentric, finicky Horace and his enigmatic personal chef Wanda, Jack is easily wooed by a gorgeous, seductive culinary celebrity. But when tragedy rocks Horace’s insulated white-linen world, Jack must take charge of a simmering stew of quirky yet powerful personalities while staying in Wanda’s good graces and keeping an eye on their newest passenger.
Peterson’s second book is like a meal prepared by a top-tier chef, great individual ingredients coming together to form something even better. Brilliant, athletic Jack Marshall was a Stanford football star whose career ended after a shameful accident. After recovering from his downfall, Jack becomes a bartender on an elaborate, anachronistic railroad dining car owned by rich, alcoholic, famously eccentric Horace Button, a nationally acclaimed food and wine writer. Horace is a politically connected culinary aesthete who has hired the 25-year-old Jack to perform “the menial tasks of a busboy,” but his deeper abilities are never entirely ignored. Throughout journeys across the country in the rolling bar/restaurant/sleeper car, with its remarkably lovable/hateable owner and its extraordinarily talented chef Wanda Nordquist, Jack outgrows his flaws. The novel inspires dreams of savoring decadently elaborate foods, drinking fine wines and specialty cocktails, and rolling with unlikely adventures while hurting, laughing, and falling in love. Peterson (Life as a Sandwich) serves up his story in delicious form. (BookLife)

This review has been corrected; an omitted word was added to the last sentence and the price was corrected.