Thursday, November 7, 2013

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Frederick Lee Brooke, Author of Doing Max Vinyl

Doing Max Vinyl tells the story of three women setting out to make this the worst week of Max’s life. They wouldn’t dream of doing the things they do if he didn’t provoke them. Sometimes Max Vinyl just can’t help it.

Max’s environmentalist secretary, Tris Berrymore, also happens to be his lover. She joined the company and fell in love with Max because he heads his own computer recycling company. A recycling king, she thought. Until the day she discovers a large part of the computer junk coming in actually goes out on barges in the middle of the night, only to be dumped ten miles offshore in Lake Michigan.

It’s almost enough to make a girl lose her appetite. A confirmed vegetarian, Tris eats meals that consist of alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes and yogurt. In response to Max’s dumping, Tris dumps Max, breaking his heart. When he arrives at her door with ten dozen roses and brimming with boyish confidence, Tris attacks him with pepper spray through the crack in the door.

Max, for his part, will eat steak or fish or pizza, whatever’s served, as long as it’s tasty. He never drinks more than one glass of wine, because he loves being in control.

More than his taste buds, Max is a slave to his olfactoral sense. When Tris sends him a padded envelope containing a few pairs of his briefs, from which she has snipped out strategic sections, Max breathes in the lingering aroma of her perfume, Passion by Chanel.

Of course, Max’s ex-wife, Ginger, knows very well how to lead him by the nose. When he comes calling at Ginger’s one night, smarting from the breakup with Tris and covered with scratches from the roses, Ginger puts on the old orangey perfume that always drove Max crazy back in the day. Sure enough, after a simple dinner of pasta with olive oil and garlic, with a glass of white wine that tastes vinegary to him, Max finds himself back in Ginger’s bed. How low can you go? he thinks miserably the next morning.

Ginger’s problem is that Max never pays his alimony on time, and she’ll do just about anything to teach him to behave. She starts by arriving unannounced at his office with a gooey chocolate cake. In the end, Ginger uses her wiles to force Max to open the safe and fork out the cash he owes her. She’s not even surprised to learn that Max used her measurements for the combination. “Those use to be my measurements, Max. They’re not anymore.”

Annie Ogden has a different reason for wanting to do Max Vinyl. A bacon-cheeseburger sort of woman, Annie is just back from four years of active service in Iraq. Annie’s anger lurks close to the surface anyway, so when two of Max Vinyl’s employees threaten her sister, Annie decides it’s time to kick some corporate butt.

The three women never meet, and don’t join forces directly, but their combined efforts create a mighty unpleasant series of events for Max. Along the way, there are lots of laughs at the antics of many colorful minor characters. I hope this account has managed to whet your appetite. Want to know if he escapes with his life? I guess there’s only one way to find out ...

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Fred!

Frederick Lee Brooke is the author of the widely-acclaimed Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage. A consummate jetsetter, he was born and raised in Chicago and has lived in Massachusetts, Montana, France, and Germany. He has called Switzerland his home for the past two decades, and travels widely throughout Europe (at latest count, he has visited Italy over 50 times!).
Brooke’s love of the written and spoken word is vast—not only has he taught English in various European schools, he also knows French, German, and Italian, and dabbles in Turkish in his spare time. This love of language led him to quit his day job two years ago and focus on his original dream: writing fiction. When not writing books, his three kids (and their homework) keep him busy. He is currently working on a new series of thrillers and, once that’s done, he might take some time to visit one of those Swiss chocolate factories (but only for the free samples). He can often be found chopping vegetables in the kitchen, and makes a mean lasagna.

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