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Phyllis Richman’s second hardcover serving, Murder on the Gravy Train, is less a novel than an oral fable unfurled by a chatty dining companion. Richman takes the template of her job as the Washington Post’s doyenne of D.C. dining, spices it up with a few dead bodies, and, voila, she’s the one on the gravy train, extending her franchise to the literary set. Against a noirish backdrop, our hero—who is just like Richman, only younger and more beautiful—sleuths her way to some crime-busting epiphanies and doles out stars to various restaurants. It’s all in good—if not particularly well-executed—fun, and, given the book’s conversational tone, it should parse well in tonight’s reading. It’s worth showing up just to see what kind of disguise Richman will perpetrate: When you can make or break a restaurant so effortlessly, you can’t be too careful. Look for massive glasses, lots of hair, and maybe a fake nose at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (David Carr)