In New York, eating out can be hell.
Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?
Welcome to Sin du Jour - where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.
Sin du Jour
Book 1: Envy of Angels
Book 2: Lustlocked
Book 3: Pride's Spell
Book 4: Idle Ingredients
Book 5: Greedy Pigs
Book 6: Gluttony Bay
Book 7: Taste of Wrath
PRAISE FOR ENVY OF ANGELS:
"Matt Wallace tells a raucous, riotous tale of culinary madness - a jaw-dropping horror-fantasy restaurateur Thunderdome that makes the 'monkey brain' scene in Temple of Doom look like something you'd see on Nickelodeon. It's like I dropped a heroic dose of acid and turned on the Food Network for eight hours. It's funny and demented and sticks in you like a pinbone. Matt Wallace writes like someone just jammed a needle full of adrenaline in his heart - and then, in yours. From this point forward, I'll read anything this guy writes." Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Zer0es
"No one makes me think, 'Dammit, I should have thought of that!' like Matt Wallace. The Sin du Jour series is something I read with equal amounts of envy and delight." Mur Lafferty, Campbell Award winning author of The Shambling Guide to New York City
"Envy of Angels is one of the most original urban fantasies I've read in a damn long time. Angels, demons and the New York restaurant scene. It doesn't get any weirder than this. Matt Wallace is an author to watch." Stephen Blackmoore, author of Dead Things and Broken Souls
"Envy of Angels is exactly the breath of fresh air I didn't know I needed: darkly funny, sweepingly inventive, and just plain fun to read. Every time I thought I got the hang of this book, the next turn took me someplace even more breathtakingly weird and wonderful. Buy it. DO IT NOW. It's the only way we can force him to write a dozen more of these!" Andrea Phillips, author of Revision
About the Author
Matt Wallace is the Hugo Award-winning author of the Sin du Jour series, Rencor: Life in Grudge City, and co-host of the Ditch Diggers podcast with Mur Lafferty. He's penned over one hundred short stories, several of them award winners, as well as writing for film and television. Before retiring to write full-time, Matt traveled the world as a professional wrestler, hand-to-hand combat and self-defense instructor. He now lives and works in Los Angeles alongside his wife, Nikki.
Read an Excerpt
Envy of Angels
By Matt Wallace, Lee Harris
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 Matt Wallace
All rights reserved.
* * *
A hotel room in São Paulo is the third worst place in the world in which to go into cardiac arrest.
The absolute worst place in the world in which to go into cardiac arrest, based solely on distance and the law of averages, is the middle of the Sahara desert.
The second-worst place is any hospital listed on your HMO plan.
Sao Paulo, however, remains a close third, and has for the better part of a half century.
When Ritter walks out of the small bathroom, towel around his waist, Moon is sprawled motionless over the foot of the bed, his eyes wide and catatonic.
Cindy is bent over him, calmly performing chest compressions.
"What the hell?"
"He ate the whole goddamn tray," Cindy informs him.
Ritter looks over at the tray that had been filled with silver spiny insect eggs when he entered the bathroom.
The same tray is now a pile of cracked, empty pods.
He looks back at Cindy. "He was just supposed to try one!"
"I turned my back for, like, three seconds!" she snaps at him.
Ritter rushes over to two large suitcases resting on the floor against the wall. He crouches down and flips open both.
Inside one is a meticulous arrangement of medical supplies, bandages, syringes, and various scrip bottles. Inside the other is an even more meticulously arranged collection of occult objects ranging from skulls to crystal balls to talismans of a dozen religious and tribal origins.
"Is it a physical reaction or a mystical effect?" he asks over his shoulder.
"His heart's failing!"
Ritter nods. He roots through their traveling emergency room and comes up with a shot of adrenaline sealed in plastic and a portable defibrillator.
Returning to the bed, he removes two adhesive strips tethered to the device's control box by wires. Peeling off their yellow lining, Ritter attaches them both to Moon's slight chest.
He watches the power bar, a series of red tabs slowly converting to blue as the defibrillator charges.
It's four red tabs away from full charge when someone begins steadily and forcefully knocking on their hotel room door.
"What the fuck now!" Cindy explodes.
Ritter silently hands her the control box and steps off the bed.
He's less than three feet from the door when it busts its hinges and comes toppling down onto him, flattening Ritter to the cheaply carpeted floor.
He peers over the top of the door to find bulbous, angry eyes staring back at him.
A six-foot praying mantis is perched on the battered-down wooden slab.
And it is pissed.
Cindy drops over the side of the bed, ready to pounce on the gargantuan insect.
"Stay there!" Ritter orders her, and she halts in her tracks instantly. "Don't let Moon fall out!"
The mantis swings its head up to regard Cindy.
He can feel its weight shifting on the other side of the door, bladed limbs preparing to launch it at her.
Ritter presses the flat of his fist against his side of the door, his mind creating a light-speed montage of memories from a summer he spent as a young martial arts student in his basement mastering Bruce Lee's infamous one-inch punch.
His father called it a stupid waste of time.
Neither of them, of course, could have ever predicted the career path that has led Ritter to this particular moment and situation.
His fist punches through the cheap wood and grabs a handful of the creature's thorax.
Its shriek is a chorus of nails being swallowed by a garbage disposal.
Cindy hesitates for one brief moment, then leaps up onto the bed, jumping over Moon and grabbing the defibrillator's control box.
It's one tab away from full charge.
"How the fuck did this thing track us here?" Ritter yells out as he struggles to maintain his grip on the mantis.
Cindy's eyes remain glued to the power bar. "Maternal instinct?"
"These things produce hundreds of clutches a fucking year!"
"Yeah, who knew?"
The mantis swipes at Ritter's head, but he manages to duck back beneath the door just before the insect shreds a two-foot expanse of carpet.
"I don't hear Moon not being dead!" he shouts at her.
"In a second!"
The last tab on the power bar turns blue.
The defibrillator is fully charged.
She jams her thumb against its large orange button.
Moon's pasty, frail body jumps.
His eyes open.
"That was some good shit," he croaks.
Meanwhile, the splintered door ceases to thunder and crash atop Ritter's body.
He realizes that's because the mantis has stopped thrashing atop the door.
The insect's severed, angular head bounces off the carpet a foot from where Ritter is sprawled out.
Hara pulls the door off Ritter with one hand covered in brown syrupy sludge, holding the slab up against its battered frame.
Ritter lifts his head to regard the stoic giant.
"Did you get the salgadinhos?" he asks.
Hara nods, holding up the paper bag filled with the fried doughy snacks in his other hand.
"Oh, sweet," Ritter says, and his head drops back onto the torn-up carpet.
He closes his eyes.
A few feet away he feels more than he hears Cindy's booted feet touching down on the floor.
Ritter opens his eyes to look at her, upside down, sitting on the side of the bed.
She looks pensive.
"What?" he asks expectantly.
She shakes her head.
"What?" he demands.
"I don't want to be the one to say it."
"You never do."
"We have to go find more eggs now."
Ritter sighs, forcing his body to sit up.
At least three of his ribs are cracked.
"How bad does Bronko really need these things, you figure?"
"Bad enough to expense this whole trip without bitching."
He looks over at the head of the mantis.
Ritter reaches out and flicks one of its bulbous eyes.
"I hope you have a sister," he says.CHAPTER 2
* * *
Lena watches Darren pour rum into the batter for what should be half a second at most and turns into a full five, which in booze- pouring terms might as well be an eternity, particularly in the case of 101-proof Jamaican kick-ass.
"If you want to get schwasted we can just drink, you know."
"This is the therapeutic part," Darren explains as he begins rapidly stirring the batter into dough.
Lena reaches over and snatches the rum bottle from the spot on the counter where he set it aside.
"Right," she says, taking a drink and immediately making that I've-just-poisoned-my-face face.
He's standing in the kitchen of the apartment they share while she sits at the bar separating it from their living area. It's a modest place ("crack-hole was the word she'd used to describe it when they walked through it for the first time), b"ut they've fixed it up to the best of their abilities and they keep it clean. It's theirs, and they've always been proud of it.
They'd known each other in high school, although they weren't close. But there was a mutual respect and recognition that neither of them really fit in.
After high school and three years of "studying abroad," as Lena refers to it, she decided to go to New York and try to break in as a chef. Darren had spent those intervening years in culinary school and was ready to head east himself. Lena contacted him after reading his post about it on Facebook, and the two quickly found they had all the important things in common.
They never really talked about sharing an apartment. Darren simply told her he'd keep an eye out for her as he vetted places for himself. Three months later they were carting the few boxes of their meager belongings up the three flights of stairs to a two-bedroom unit in Williamsburg. Theirs is a vaguely bohemian Brooklyn neighborhood populated by a large number of very chill Ecuadorians.
Darren begins forming pieces of dough into long, thin twists and arranging them on a baking sheet he's greased with butter.
Lena continues to watch him dubiously, taking more careful sips from the bottle.
One of the characters in Darren's favorite series of novels about chefs makes cheese straws when they're nervous.
Darren has borrowed the habit.
"You're going to have to call them eventually," Lena reminds him.
"I know," Darren says quietly as he slides the baking sheet into the preheated oven and slams the door closed.
"Them" are Darren's parents.
It's a concern with which Lena has no ability to empathize. She has a mother in St. Louis she checks in with a few times a year — more like acquaintances than family. She hasn't spoken to her father, who does not live in St. Louis, since she turned eighteen.
Darren's parents, on the other hand, call him twice a week like clockwork, the both of them on speakerphone. They're relentlessly upbeat and supportive, but sometimes more invested in Darren's daily life than even he is. Sometimes to Lena the calls sound more like he's being interviewed than talking to his family.
"We can keep looking," she offers.
"For what? You want to go back to working the line at Bubba-Gump Shrimp Company? No high-end restaurant in the city is going to put us on. That's what 'blackballed' means, El."
"We could try Jersey."
Darren stops forming the next batch of cheese straws and shoots her a look that asks why she'd insinuate such a nasty and disparaging thing about his lineage.
Lena snorts laughter into the mouth of the bottle before taking her next tentative swig.
Darren's iPhone begins playing Eddie Murphy's immortal pop classic "Party All the Time."
Darren often says the ring tone is the gayest thing about him.
Lena always corrects him by saying it's the second-gayest thing.
Darren picks the phone up off the counter and reads the number.
"Shit," he says. "It's a city area code."
Lena's eyebrows inch up.
No one they know with a New York City area code is still speaking to them.
He puts the call on speaker for them both to hear and answers cordially, "Darren Vargas."
"What's up, Darren? This is Byron Luck. I'm the executive chef of Sin du Jour."
Darren quickly mouths the latter name at Lena, who can only shake her head.
"I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with your restaurant. Is it in Manhattan?"
"We're actually a private catering and event company based in Long Island City. At least until the developers come for us with a big-ass check and a wrecking ball. It's amazing where folks want to live these days."
Darren and Lena both laugh, genuinely.
Whoever the chef is, he has a confident, easy way about him.
Although he also sounds busy and preoccupied in the way executive chefs always are.
"Is ..." — a pause — "... Lena Tarr there? You guys room together, right?"
They trade more confused looks above the phone.
"Um. Yeah. Yes. She's right here, actually. You're on speaker."
"So are you two a couple?"
"No," Darren says quickly. "We're just roommates. We've been friends since high school."
"Cute. Look, I find myself suddenly short-staffed with a massive event coming up. We're actually already prepping for it. I could use both of you on the line tomorrow, if you're available. I'll need you for at least a week, maybe more."
Neither of them can believe the offer he's just made, and it shows on their faces.
"Wow. That's ... crazy."
"If you don't mind my asking, not that I'm not ... or we're not interested — we are — but how did you get our names and my number?"
"Tunney told me about you guys," Luck explains easily, completely unruffled. "He said you're top hands. He said you got a raw deal over at that shiny splooge factory you were fired from. Porto Fiero or Fucko or whatever."
They both grin at his description of their former place of employment, and at the mention of Tunney, the ancient dishwasher with whom they shared their only good times there.
"You worked with Tunney?" Darren asks.
"He worked for me. Once upon a fuckin' time."
"Excuse me," Lena chimes in. "Are you ... Bronko Luck?"
"It's mostly just Byron now," he answers without hesitation, "but yeah, I was. Again, once upon a fuckin' time."
Lena appears genuinely stunned.
"I'm sorry, but I thought ..."
"You thought I died."
"Don't worry about it. I did. Briefly. So, are you up for it? The both of you? Tunney told me what you were making. I'll put a cherry on top of that, say twenty percent."
Darren and Lena regard each other, but there's really no discussion to be had, silent or otherwise.
Darren seconds that. "Yes, sir."
"Good. I'll text you the address. I need you here at six. If you're late you're not on my line."
Together: "Yes, Chef."
"That's what I like to hear. See you both at sunrise."
He ends the call.
They're silent for a moment, both processing the abruptness of what's just happened.
Then Darren says, "Who the fuck is Bronko Luck?"
"You don't remember? He had all those gastropubs when we were in school, Dead Man's Hand. And his restaurant here was called the Monkey's Paw. He was, like, famous. Sorta Bobby Flay meets Guy Fieri, only —"
"I wasn't keeping track of shit like that back then, I guess. What did he say about dying? Or what did you say?"
"That's what I remember reading. He was presumed dead. His restaurant closed. The pub chain got sold off and turned into Applebee's or whatever the hell."
"I mean ... it's a catering company."
"In Long Island City," Lena adds.
"In Long Island City. Still, catering —"
"Dude, we got a new job."
"We did. You're right."
Lena suddenly climbs over the table and seizes Darren around the shoulders.
"I don't have to call them!" he practically screeches, spinning her.
When they're done reveling, Darren looks around at the baking fallout all over the counters, and at the hot oven.
"What am I going to do with all this shit now?" he asks.
Lena shrugs. "Landlord?"
Darren shrugs back. "Fuck it. We're employed again."
"Yeah. Hey, what did he say the place is called?"CHAPTER 3
SIN DU JOUR
* * *
The place they're looking for is a three-story rectangle of dusty red brick piled on the corner of an obscure industrial block far from the nearest residential building development (they're becoming a plague, it seems). Circling it in Darren's beat-to-shit Dodge Neon, they missed the building twice before finally spotting the small faded sign bolted above the front entrance.
It's not exactly what they expected from a former celebrity chef. The logo features a decadent piece of chocolate cake with cartoon limbs and a smiling cartoon face. sin du jour catering & events is stenciled around it in a trying-too-hard-to-be-elegant font whose letters are peeling from age.
They regard each other, Darren with trepidation and Lena with pure skepticism, which is usually how their reactions split from each other's.
They're here, however, and they need whatever work is waiting inside this strange edifice. They've both come dressed for battle, toting their knife cases. Lena is already donning the headband she always wears in the kitchen, with its sweat-faded logo against her pixie-cut scalp. Darren opts, when allowed, to tuck his own messy black locks under his lucky Taft High Falcons baseball cap spun backward.
"Maybe it's some kind of new reality show," Darren offers as they approach the front doors. "You know, find young, hot, down-on-their-shitty-luck chefs and bring them to some weird-ass building in the middle of nowhere and surprise them."
"I notice you tossed 'hot' in there."
"I was talking about me."
They both laugh, and it helps ease the tension and allay their fears long enough to walk inside the building.
The lobby of Sin du Jour is the exact opposite of its façade: it's modern, expensively decorated, and meticulously kept. Lena's immediate thought, albeit absently, is that the outside almost seems like camouflage — an odd choice for a business serving such a competitive industry.
They're met with a circular reception desk lacking a receptionist. A broad picture window behind it looks out onto a stone courtyard that must exist in the center of the whole structure.
Lena and Darren idle in the lobby, unsure of what to do next.
It's not as if they can ring a bell for service.
They mill about for a while, each anticipatory moment agonizingly drawn out. Darren conspiratorially peers down the long hallway leading off from the lobby, but chickens out short of actually stepping down it.
He feels Lena judging him with her eyes, so he doesn't look at her.
Thankfully they begin to hear voices growing louder and moving in their direction. They soon realize it is a single voice accompanied by the loud, steady clacking of heels-on-floor.
A tall, lithe woman appears from the deep hallway beyond the empty reception desk. She's wearing a very smart Chanel knock-off suit and what must be three hundred dollars' worth of high-end makeup and grooming products. On her left ear is affixed what must be the tiniest Bluetooth ever conceived by man. She looks more West Coast than East to both Lena and Darren, right down to a perfect tan.
That's when they notice the small fleshy growth that covers most of her left ear.
Darren and Lena both find the floor suddenly fascinating and proceed to study it thusly.
"— I'm not producing a high school prom on Staten Island, Rico," the woman says, continuing her conversation from the hallway. "This is an extremely important diplomatic function, and the onus to remember that is yours. Now get it done."
She taps her Bluetooth without waiting for a reply, and although she was standing in front of them both for the last ten seconds of the call she only now acknowledges their presence.
Excerpted from Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace, Lee Harris. Copyright © 2015 Matt Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Sin Du Jour,
The Forbidden Pantry,
She Talks to Angels,
A Pound of Flesh,
Cock of the Walk,
The Missing Ingredient,
A Mortal Occupation,
About the Author,
Also by Matt Wallace,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Can't wait to get into the next installment
I’ve been down on my luck before, sure. We all have, at one time or another. And I’ve played the game too many times of “Okay, so how am I gonna pay my rent this month?” I’ve sold things and taken on extra work, but I’ve been relatively lucky. I’ve never had to cook for demons. Matt Wallace’s Envy of Angels, the first novella in the Sin du Jour series published by Tor.com, starts just there. Out of work chefs Lena and Darren get lucrative offers of employment from Bronko Luck, a presumed-dead celebrity chef, to cook at the mysterious catering company Sin du Jour. As they’re introduced to the unusual crew and wander into dark pantries stocked with some very bizarre ingredients (“do not open” really does mean DO NOT OPEN), they are left to wonder if they’re up for the rigors of fine dining for creatures of the underworld. However, even six-foot-tall insects, severed arms and dogs fluent in demon-speak aren’t going to deter this duo of derring-do from rolling up their sleeves, slipping out their knives and trying to get a handle on this mess hall from hell. Wallace sets the table with a deft skill, laying out course after course of delightful scenes and dangerous characters. We meet the members of the Stocking and Receiving Department, a crack team tasked with tracking down the rarest of supernatural additives needed for the out-of-this-world dishes. And then there’s Mr. Allensworth, the enigmatic government spook with a penchant for track suits who provides the ethically-questionable main course ingredient, thus providing the main conundrum for everyone involved. Plot, character development and backstory are so tightly woven and quickly spun-out that I was left breathless, and desperately turning the page for the next delectable sentence. There’s no shortage of sass and snark, either. Ryland, the alcoholic alchemist (because really, would there be any other kind) made me chortle with glee, and Ritter, the leader of Sin du Jour’s answer to the A-Team, has no equal when it comes to sarcastic retorts. Throw in a clown named Redman Britches, terrifying and absurd in equal measure, and I was enchanted by Wallace’s quirky sensibilities. But the funny doesn’t just come from the characters: it permeates the whole delicious dish. I found myself in wonder at the kind of mind that would take such twisted and imaginative paths. In the Sin du Jour world, magic, technology, and religion co-exist, and are all a bit messy and wholly surprising. The sense that lingers, however, is that of enormous heart. At several points, Wallace took my heart, showed it to me, and cleaved it in two. But in such a way that I knew it was a necessary thing, and thanked him for the cut. This is where rare skill is shown, when a writer can make you grateful for the pain. There is a sort of brightness that is distilled through tragedy, and a gentleness that rises only from wounds of the worst kind. This all informs the rich world that Wallace has crafted, and it left me gloriously full and hungry for the next meal. Envy of Angels is, quite simply, ambrosia made up of equal parts beatific wonderment, barking laughter and so, so much nightmare fuel. Each bite of this book is perfectly balanced; action, intrigue, heart and humor. Whet your appetite, because Matt Wallace’s Envy of Angels delivers.
New York City is home to some of the world’s greatest food and restaurants, but none of them compare to Sin du Jour. A catering company on Long Island, Sin du Jour creates delicacies to please even the pickiest supernatural creatures. But catering for demons, goblins, and other monsters is dangerous business. Two minutes after I finished Envy of Angels, I preordered the second book in the Sin du Jour series, Lustlocked. It was just that good. I wasn’t too sure about it at first. Matt Wallace introduces a whole lot of characters in the first twenty pages, and I was a bit overwhelmed. There seemed to be too many personalities and names to keep straight. But Wallace made it work by allowing certain characters to fade into the background until I got a sense of others. Then when I was able to keep everyone straight, the cast got big again. Everyone was really well developed, and I could imagine meeting any of them on the street of NYC. (I also can’t wait to read more about them–especially Nikki and Lena–in Lustlocked.) It’s pretty rare for me to get passionate about a story and want to talk about it all the time. I read a ton of great books, but only a select few have that special combination of story, character, and pixie dust. Envy of Angels had it. I’ve never read anything like this story, and all of the elements worked so well together. The characters jumped off the pages, the setting was easy to imagine, and the plot caught my attention. I’m so looking forward to seeing what happens next in Lustlocked. Envy of Angels would be a great choice for anyone interested in urban fantasy. Rating: 5/5 Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace is published by Tor.com as an eBook and a paperback. It is the first in the Sin du Jour series.
Demonic food fun!
This was just okay for me. I have heard great things about this series so this book has been on my to be read list for some time. I bought a copy of the book but had not had the opportunity to sit down and read it just yet so when I saw that the audiobook was available through my library, I decided to go that route. It is a rather short piece so I was able to finish it in just a couple of days. I didn't fall in love with this book but did enjoy some aspects of the story. This book was weird. I like weird books so that shouldn't have been any kind of problem but this book is really weird. Not normal weird but undead clowns worshipping a giant chicken kind of weird. This book had a certain crazy that went along with the weird and I think it was just a bit much for me at times. It was definitely unique and unlike anything else that I have ever read. Darren and Lena get the chance to work for a catering company called Sin du Jour. Sin du Jour is not your normal group of caterers. They have a very original menu and clientele that sometimes come to them with special requests. Serving the wrong kind of meal could have devastating consequences for the employees of Sin du Jour. I thought that the way that the staff of Sin du Jour interacted with each other felt rather authentic. The narrator was just okay for me as well. I believe that this is the first time that I have had the chance to listen to Corey Gagne's narration. I have to admit that I didn't care for some of the voices that he used especially for the female characters. It was difficult to determine who was talking at times. I thought that he did have a pleasant voice that brought excitement to some of the scenes but I was never quite able to completely move past my dislike for some of the voices used. I would probably be willing to give this narrator another try in the future with a different kind of story. I think that some readers may enjoy this story a bit more than I did. It was a really interesting concept with some really exciting scenes. The book did cause me to swear off all chicken nuggets at least for a little while. I am probably not going to continue with this series but I am glad that I decided to give this story a listen.