Tosca Ristorante in Shoreham’s High Street is the setting of chapter 44 of the 14th instalment of the bestselling Roy Grace series, called Dead If You Don’t.
Owner Enver Godanci also found himself named as a character in the story – an experience he described as being ‘very strange’.
“Obviously it’s very exciting to become a character and see my restaurant being used as a setting in one of Peter’s books,” he said.
“A lot of members of family follow the books.
“I keep receiving emails and messages saying congratulations.”
Mr James has visited the Italian restaurant, which was set up by Mr Godanci in 2004, several times over the years and the pair met two years ago.
The latest novel in the series sees Brighton based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace face his most complex case yet, as an investigation into the kidnapping of the teenage son of a successful businessman finds him uncovering a criminal underworld.
The character describes Tosca as one of his favourite restaurants in the county – a view Mr Godanci said reflected the author’s opinion.
“He has a lot of praise for the food we do here and our menu, the great atmosphere we provide for local people,” he said.
Mr Godanci, who also owns Tosca Tapas and Prosecco Bar in Southwick Square, Southwick, was invited to an exclusive pre-launch book signing at the Amex Stadium in Falmer on Wednesday.
He said: “It was really good, I met a lot of people I knew from previous work.”
The thriller, published by PanMacmillan, was released on Thursday and Mr Godanci said he had already read part of the novel.
He said: “I can’t say who the killer is but I can reveal that it’s not me!”