Mastering the Art of French Murder
A Charming New Parisian Historical Mystery
by Colleen Cambridge
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Pub Date 25 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 02 May 2023
Kensington Books, Kensington
Set in the City of Light and starring Julia Child’s (fictional) best friend, confidant, and fellow American, this magnifique new historical mystery series from the acclaimed author of Murder at Mallowan Hall combines a fresh perspective on the iconic chef’s years in post-WWII Paris with a delicious mystery and a unique culinary twist. Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Marie Benedict, and of course, Julia Child alike!
As Paris rediscovers its joie de vivre, Tabitha Knight, recently arrived from Detroit for an extended stay with her French grandfather, is on her own journey of discovery. Paris isn’t just the City of Light; it’s the city of history, romance, stunning architecture . . . and food. Thanks to her neighbor and friend Julia Child, another ex-pat who’s fallen head over heels for Paris, Tabitha is learning how to cook for her Grandpère and Oncle Rafe.
Between tutoring Americans in French, visiting the market, and eagerly sampling the results of Julia’s studies at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, Tabitha’s sojourn is proving thoroughly delightful. That is, until the cold December day they return to Julia’s building and learn that a body has been found in the cellar. Tabitha recognizes the victim as a woman she’d met only the night before, at a party given by Julia’s sister, Dort. The murder weapon found nearby is recognizable too—a knife from Julia’s kitchen.
Tabitha is eager to help the investigation, but is shocked when Inspector Merveille reveals that a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, was found in the dead woman’s pocket. Is this murder a case of international intrigue, or something far more personal? From the shadows of the Tour Eiffel at midnight, to the tiny third-floor Child kitchen, to the grungy streets of Montmartre, Tabitha navigates through the city hoping to find the real killer before she or one of her friends ends up in prison . . . or worse.
“Cambridge’s newest series has everything going for it…A first-rate traditional mystery with strong characterization that is certain to appeal to a broad readership, especially fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen, and Cambridge’s own Phyllida Bright series.” –First Clue, STARRED REVIEW
“Colleen Cambridge has a knack for creating lively, atmospheric historical mysteries featuring fictional heroines on the periphery of the lives of actual historical figures. In MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH MURDER, we meet Tabitha Knight, a former Rosie the Riveter at loose ends after the end of World War II, who moved to Paris from Detroit to live with her grandfather and his partner - directly across the street from Julia Child. When a murdered woman is discovered in the basement of Child's apartment building, Tabitha can't resist a little amateur sleuthing - which leads her into real-life peril. MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH MURDER is a lively, entertaining mystery in the classic cozy style. Highly recommended!” –Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books (Grand Rapids, MI)
“With settings from the lively Parisian market and elegant Notre Dame to Julia Child’s tiny kitchen, Colleen Cambridge masterfully brings post-WWII Paris to life in her newest historical mystery. It’s within this fascinating time that we’re introduced to Tabitha Knight, a bright and curious new heroine, best friend and neighbor to Julia Child. Tabitha is loving her expat life in the City of Lights, until she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation! There’s much to love about this cozy mystery - an entertaining friendship between Julia and Tabitha, vivid characters, and plenty of French cuisine. I’m already hoping for more of their shared adventures along the rue de l’Université!” –Stefanie Lynn, The Kennett Bookhouse (Kennett Square, PA)
“Ah, springtime in Paris, when love is all around, the air is filled with the scents of fine cooking and, uh, murder is in the cellar. What a delicious combination—the great Julia Child in her kitchen with her pots and pans and marvelous recipes, recreated from classes at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, and a grand mystery. A young American, Tabitha Knight, has developed a friendship with our future kitchen Queen…What a way to start a new mystery series! You'll love the characters, the road trips through Parisian streets, and the challenge of a whodunit that will keep you up night looking for answers. So get out your best wine, set the table, and pull up a chair. This is a meal you're destined to remember.” –Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)
“A clever whodunnit that blends the wit and charm of Julia Child in Paris with a series of murders involving her friends that resembles Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Armchair detectives and amateur French chefs are in for a culinary and literary treat.” –Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library (Austin, TX)
“This has all the ingredients of a great mystery: dynamic characters, multiple villains, and strong motives. Readers will savor Tabitha Knight's friendship with Julia and Paul Child, and her experience as an American in Paris. Luckily, each of Tabita's missteps as an amateur detective are peppered with clues!” –Tina Panik, Avon Free Public Library (Avon, CT)
“Cambridge breathes life into Julia Child, and any reader familiar with the French Chef will appreciate her cadence, humor, style and cooking tips, often referring to a chicken as Ms. Poulet, and fretting over a mayonnaise that doesn’t seem to be coming together. She provides a charming distraction, and her appearances are always welcome as Knight navigates the Parisian streets to catch a killer. Ultimately it is Tabitha’s story, as she often puts herself into danger to uncover the truth. The book creates the perfect blend of atmosphere, historical detail, suspense and character development that will make this title a sure-fire hit. Easily shared with fans of Jacqueline Winspear or the Miss Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH MURDER gives mystery readers a taste of a tremendous new series that will have them clamoring for a second course.” –Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library (Baltimore, MD)
“Native Michigander Tabitha finds a new home, new friends, and a murder mystery when she moves to Paris after WWII to stay with her grandfather. With the encouragement of her fellow ex-pat and friend, Julia Child, she works to solve the crime—and perfect her roast chicken—in this engaging cozy…Its vibrant post-war Parisian setting (including real-life characters such as Child), clever mystery, and mouth-watering food descriptions set it apart.” –Laurie Walters, Brighton District Library (Brighton, MI)
“A wonderful new cozy mystery featuring Julia Child. Set in Paris where Julia is living with her husband and attending the Cordon Bleu. Wonderful characters, beautiful food descriptions and an intriguing tale of murder and spies in post-World War II Paris. Can't wait for the next entry.” –Lisa Joyce, South Portland Public Library (Portland, ME)
“For fans of mysteries, Paris and Julia Child, there is a new series to watch for. The debut, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH MURDER, is set in Paris in the 50s and follows Tabitha Knight, a young half-French woman who is staying with her grandfather and living across the street from Julia. Tabitha is hoping to absorb some of her friend’s cooking genius…The ensemble characters are affectionately portrayed, and reinforce the popular picture of Julia as being funny, passionate, madcap, creative and a bit ribald at times. Tabitha is an appealing character and her grandfather and friends are nicely fleshed out.” –Robin Gard, Poudre River Public Library District (Fort Collins, CO)
“When you think of Julia Child and France, your mind automatically goes to French cooking. But when you add in Tabitha, a young American whom Julia is teaching to cook, a dead body, and a cast of intriguing characters, you wind up with this delightful concoction of murder, food, and mystery. From French street markets to a group of American expatriates to the seething undercurrents in post-WW II Paris, Tabitha must use her knowledge of French and natural talent for making connections to uncover the killer before she becomes the next victim.” –Joy O'Toole, Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Fredericksburg, VA)
“A delightfully murderous romp through post-World War II Paris! The simultaneously funny and creepy scenes kept me turning the pages as the bodies piled up. But it's the descriptions of Paris and the food, ah Parisian food!, that had me salivating throughout the entire book.” –Julie Earhart-Cracchiolo, St. Louis Public Library (St. Louis, MO)
“Colleen Cambridge depicts a look at everyday life in Paris with a twist. An enjoyable mystery.” –Tanya Alexander, Arab Public Library (Arab, AL)
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 237 members
Picture it: Paris 1949. The city is still recovering from the devastation of WWII. Julia Child and her husband Paul have recently moved to Paris due to his job with the diplomatic service. Once in Paris, Julia experiences the delights of French cuisine for the first time, and the rest is history. Shopping for ingredients for her latest culinary masterpiece at a local market, Julia encounters fellow American Tabitha Knight. Tabitha is half-French, so after the war, without many prospects at home in Detroit, she moves to France to stay with her grandfather. The two American ex-pats strike up a friendship and Julia attempts to help Tabitha with her cooking skills and her love life. Sharing a flat with Julia and Paul is Julia's sister Dort. Dort works in the theatre and often brings back her pals for long boozy evenings. One night, Tabitha leaves one of these parties at the same time as a young woman she just met, Thérèse. Tabitha only lives across the street, so she bids Thérèse farewell and leaves her to wait for a taxi. The next morning, Thérèse is found murdered in the stairwell of Julia's building. Even worse, the murder weapon turns out to be Julia's favorite chef's knife. This means that someone who attended the party that night must be the killer.
Handsome Inspector Merveille doesn't believe that Tabitha is telling him all she knows about the mysterious Thérèse, especially after a handwritten note containing Tabitha's name and address is found in the murdered woman's pocket. Tabitha's father is a policeman back in Detroit, and she grew up listening to his stories of crime investigation. She's also an avid reader of mystery novels, so it doesn't take much persuading from Julia to convince her to do some investigating on her own. Julia sometimes helps out in the sleuthing (and she definitely wants to hear all about it), but she spends most of the novel cooking up delicious concoctions that keep everyone occupied as Tabitha goes about Paris looking for clues. Julia also has her own mystery to solve: why does her mayonnaise only work on certain days? It's a puzzle . . .
The book is a wonderful love letter to the sights, sounds and smells of Paris. Even though it's a large city, Tabitha and Julia live in a small neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, and the gossip is gentle. Julia is forever gathering ingredients for delicious meals she makes whirling around in her kitchen like a tornado. The story is very cozy, featuring grandfather and his partner "Uncle Rafe" and their spoiled pets, Oscar Wilde the dog and Madame X the aloof black cat. I also enjoyed the plucky Tabitha, complete with her trusty Swiss army knife, who fearlessly takes on danger in pursuit of the truth.
A wonderful new cozy mystery featuring Julia Child. Set in Paris where Julia is living with her husband and attending the Cordon Bleu. Wonderful characters, beautiful food descriptions and an intriguing tale of murder and spies in post World War II Paris. Can't wait for the next entry in the series.
This new murder mystery (which I hope is intended to be a series) features the (fictional) American best friend and confidante of Julia Child. She and Julia solve a murder together in post World War II Paris. It's just about perfect! I look forward to recommending this to cozy mystery readers, but it is not strictly cozy -- the appeal will go across the board to mystery readers who want something lighter, with a touch of history.
This is, hands down, one of the most delightful mysteries I’ve read in some time. While I’ve enjoyed Colleen Cambridge’s Phyllida Bright/Agatha Christie stories, I’ve found those characters a bit brittle. The characters here, Tabitha and her messieurs and neighbor Julia Child, are more down-to-earth and playful, which appeals to me.
The mystery is solidly crafted and blends a traditional whodunit murder with Cold War spies, The characters introduced in this series debut have great promise. Tabitha’s grandfather and uncle are fascinating and I hope to learn more about their exploits in books to come. They remind me of the uncles in Secondhand Lions.
Julia Child is portrayed in a very similar way to her public persona - bubbly and irreverent - but it is Tabitha who shows the greatest promise. She’s a smart, capable young woman who got a taste of independence and freedom as an airplane mechanic during WWII, and now chafes under the outdated restrictions placed in women in the 1950s. I’m expecting to see her really grow into her own independence, although I also expect to see a flirtation develop between Tabitha and the inspecteur, potentially crossing this over into the Romance genre.
Overall, a delicious, refreshing mystery from an author who has crossed the line from “new” to “noteworthy.”