The Crime Thrillers You Didn't Know Anthony Bourdain Wrote

In February of 2021, Deadline reported that Webster and Robert Stone had acquired the rights to make a television adaptation of "Gone Bamboo." The novel was Anthony Bourdain's second published book. More interestingly, the tome came out two years before "Don't Eat Before Reading This" appeared in The New Yorker, laying the groundwork for "Kitchen Confidential," which launched Bourdain's celebrity.

Bourdain's "Gone Bamboo" and "Bone in the Throat" were crime novels that featured chefs with connections to the mafia. At the time, the books received mixed to poor reviews. For example, a Kirkus Review for "Bone in the Throat described it as "a fair appetizer but no main course." And a Kirkus Review for "Gone Bamboo" sums it up as "tripe." The sales numbers for the books reflected these opinions.

Still, as is evidenced by the fact that Bourdain proceeded to write a third crime novel — entitled "The Bobby Gold Stories" — the passion for writing crime novels spurred him, not a cynical calculation of profits. When, in a 2002 dialogue put together by The Guardian, the Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin asked Bourdain about his love of the genre, Bourdain explained "I'm also working through personal issues when I write crime fiction. As much fun as it is, and lucrative, to write and talk about myself, it really feels good to lose yourself in characters and solve their problems with guns and blunt objects."

A crime writer's aesthetic for the restaurant business

Amongst the pieces that proliferated in the wake of Bourdain's death, very few focused on his crime writing career. Largely, as an outlier in Vulture pointed out, this was due to the fact that Bourdain had moved away from writing crime novels. The piece lamented that Bourdain had ceased applying his spiced, playful prose to the crime novels that enjoyed a very small but devoted fanbase.

However, to insinuate that Bourdain removed himself from this interest would be mistaken. ”Crime as work appeals to me," he told The New York Times. "The guy who gets up in the morning and makes his living by crime. I've always been a crime buff and a big fan of crime jargon, and in the restaurant business, I've met a bunch of gangsters.” A similar sense of getting on with work and getting one's hands dirty comes out in an interview Bourdain gave NPR in 2017, in which he explained that while writing "Kitchen Confidential," he did not have the luxury to wallow in metaphysical mysteries as he had work in 30 minutes.

Such love and identification found its way into Bourdain's television series, where, as Crime Reads notes, the way he pulled the curtain off the restaurant industry mirrored how the best crime fictions expose the secret backstreets of respectable communities.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.