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Mastering the Art of French Murder

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Ms. Cambridge has established herself in a genre niche in which her main characters are adjacent to well-known real (although now deceased) historical figures. I enjoy the Phyllida Bright series, in which the main character is Agatha Christie's housekeeper. In this new series. the main character, Tabitha, has recently moved to Paris to live with her grandfather and her 'oncle.' It's 1950, and the post-war deprivations are only just starting to ease while the war memories remain strong. Tabitha's neighbor is Julia Child, living in Paris with her diplomat husband Paul, and the two become fast friends. In this first book, Dort, Julia's sister, throws an evening soiree that ends in murder, and Tabitha and Julia try to find who of Dort's friends and coworkers could have wanted Therese to die. The book is very atmospheric and without diving too deep into research myself, it reads as if the author has done a good bit of research herself. Paris and Julia's cooking and food are described in detail, so lovers of foodie mysteries and lovers of historical mysteries will both enjoy it.

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If Colleen Cambridge's name sounds familiar to you, it's probably because she's the one who writes cozy crime novels starring Agatha Christie's housekeeper. So it is not at all surprising that the main character in this book is Julia Child's neighbor.

His style of connecting a historical figure with a cozy crime story, history and food is very good. Maybe it's not the best book to listen to as an audiobook, but the story itself is good. There is excitement, history and I will never tire of repeating - food.
If you have seen the movie about Julia Child, starring the multi-talented Meryl Streep, then you have an idea of ​​what Julia is like in this book, because if you watch the real Julia videos on YouTube, I can't imagine her in this book. And Tabitha is exactly what you would imagine a light-footed and active American woman to be in post-war Paris - she struggles to cook and gets into increasingly dangerous situations that bring her closer to the inspector.

A good crime thriller, where there are more suspects than expected, one clue leads to another, and the solution is not reached by police investigators, but by our main characters, enjoying excellent French dishes.

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This was a great beginning to a new historical mystery series!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher

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Warm, right out of the oven, Mastering the Art of French Murder, is the the amazingly perfect entertaining mystery for anyone viewer of the Great British Baking Show. Written by Colleen Cambridge, it brings the reader right into the tent, under the lights and behind the cameras.

As I read this delightfully delicious mystery, I could hear the voices of the real TV show in my head. I could picture the tent and the chefs all trying to bake or prepare the recipes for the contest, and the heat of the competition was palatable .

Such a clever idea to use the British Baking Show as a backdrop for a murder mystery, I cannot believe I did not think of it myself.. As we read this novel, we are introduced to each of the cooking contestants, learning a little of their background and how and why they wanted to enter the contest.

Each chapter releases a little more of their stories and then some background connections to each other or to the mansion that houses this baking show set. The only thing missing from this fun, delectable are some recipes that you could sink your teeth into after finishing the book and solving the mystery.

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“Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. Everything can have drama if it’s done right. Even a pancake.” So said the real Julia Child, whose larger-than-life fictional persona has barged into the life of her neighbor in Paris, fellow expat Tabitha Knight, just a few months before a murder in Julia’s building bangs into both of their lives.

It’s the murder of a very recent guest in the apartment shared by Julia, her husband Paul Child, her sister Dorothy (Dort) McWilliams on the “Roo de Loo” as Julia called it. A murder committed with one of Julia’s distinctive chef’s knives, making Julia, at least initially, the prime suspect in this tragedy.

But Julia is not the amateur sleuth – she was too busy with what became her lifelong obsession, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” as evidenced by the title of her first cookbook.

The amateur sleuthing is left to Tabitha Knight, a former “Rosie the Riveter” living across the street with her elderly French grandfather and her honorary “oncle”, his equally elderly best friend (and probably lover).

Tabitha and Julia have already bonded over their shared infatuation with French food and French cooking – the difference being that Julia is already extremely capable at that art while Tabitha is lucky not to burn or otherwise ruin the meals she attempts to make for her elderly ‘messieurs’ and their two spoiled pets, Oscar Wilde the tiny papillon dog and Madame X the slinky cat.

But the murder isn’t merely a curiosity for either of the women. The victim died just after leaving a party in Julia’s apartment, a guest of Julia’s sister Dort, killed by one of Julia’s knives. Tabitha rode down in the elevator with the woman, and was the last to speak with her other than her killer.

The police, in the steely-eyed persona of Inspecteur Merveille, seem convinced that either Julia or Tabitha committed the foul deed. Or so it seems to Tabitha, who grew up on a steady reading diet of Nancy Drew and other mystery stories as well as her police detective father brought home. Julia is just certain – and Julia was always certain if she was anything at all – that Tabitha will be able to solve the murder ahead of the police – and pushes her into trying.

Not that it takes much arm twisting to get Tabitha on the case. A case that leads from one murder, to a second, and a third – and even a first before the one that dragged Tabitha and Julia into the mess. A mess that, surprising to everyone but the two old men yearning for Julia’s cooking rather than Tabitha’s, leads back to the war late war in which they all, in their own way, served.

And the colder war that has just begun.

Escape Rating A: First, and most important, this was an absolutely charming, utterly lovely read as well as a captivating mystery. The way that evokes post-World War II Paris, just as the lights came back on in the City of Light draws the reader and keeps them mesmerized every step of Tabitha’s way.

And I could hear Julia Child’s voice in my head in every single bit of her dialog. She was such an iconic figure in the 60s and 70s, and so ubiquitous in seemingly EVERY promo that PBS broadcast during those decades, that even though I never watched any of her programs I STILL heard her distinctive voice every single time she barged into a scene. The character as fictionalized sounded and behaved very much as at least her public persona did and swept the reader along in her wake.

But Julia was not the star of this show, no matter how often she seemed to hold center stage in any individual scene. That honor – even if she didn’t always see it as an honor – was reserved for Julia’s fictional friend and neighbor, Tabitha Knight.

And Tabitha turned out to be a terrific point-of-view character for this story. She’s impish, impulsive and intelligent, and can’t resist being the fool who rushes into a crime scene where police have barred the way and angels rightfully fear to tread.

As much as the blurbs for this book invoke Jacqueline Winspear and her Maisie Dobbs, the character that Tabitha reminds this reader of is Mabel Canning in her first outing, A Body on the Doorstep. Both Tabitha and Mabel’s stories are set just after the ending of a World War, although not the same war, at a point where their worlds are changing and new possibilities are opening up even as others close down. Both young women choose to uproot themselves from the familiar and chart a new course for their lives, and are still in the exploratory stage of that new life and new opportunities.

And both have a fortunate knack – one that often seems unfortunate as it occurs – of tripping over murder victims and being unable to resist poking their own noses into investigations that should be left to the police.

At the same time, Tabitha’s post-war Paris is a place that, if given the opportunity at the right time, It’s almost impossible not to imagine taking that opportunity and running with it to a new life in a storied city just as it is coming back into its own after the darkness of war.

The secondary characters introduced in this first book do an excellent job of drawing the reader into and filling out the corners or Tabitha’s Paris, from her charming, elderly messieurs, their equally idiosyncratic pets, the even more idiosyncratic members of the Child household, to the implacable, unreadable Inspecteur Étienne Merveille, who looks like he will become both a thorn in Tabitha’s side – and vice versa – in the books ahead.

If not, perhaps, something more.

And then there’s Julia Child herself, much too boisterous to ever be considered merely a secondary character and certainly not a sidekick, who draws readers in with her true-to-life mannerism, her real, documented history working for the OSS in the war, and her larger-than-life presence on so many wonderful pages of this story.

The alchemy of all of the above makes this reader so very glad that a second book in this An American in Paris series, A Murder Most French, will be coming out in April. I’m anticipating its arrival with nearly as much pleasure as Tabitha’s messieurs look forward to their next delicious repast from the kitchen of Madame Child.

It’s impossible to leave this story behind without one final word from that famous chef. Fortunately for the fictional Julia Child, this quote postdates her post-War years by a considerable margin. If this had been attributed to her at the time, Tabitha might have had considerably more difficulty convincing the Inspecteur that Julia was not guilty of the murder.

According to Julia Child, “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded, and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.”

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Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge is a historical mystery that features Julia Child.
Tabitha Knight is an American in Paris who is there for an extended visit to see her grandfather. She spends time tutoring Americans in French and spending time with her friend Julia. Julia is attempting to teach Tabitha how to cook so she can impress her grandfather. When a body is discovered in the cellar of her building, she must prove both her innocence and Julia's.
I love historical mysteries and I think the inclusion of Julia Child was such a fun idea. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Mastering the Art of French Murder is an enjoyable murder mystery combining postwar Paris with a murder mystery and Julia Child's personality and cooking. Reading the book definitely made me feel much like the main character and her grandfather — that it would be nice to have Julia Child as a neighbor and enjoy her cooking. Neither the book nor the murder mystery at its core is particularly excellent or memorable, but it’s a nice confection that brings in a lot of the personality of Paris and of the one-of-a-kind Julia Child.

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"Mastering the Art of French Murder" is a completely entertaining read. Cambridge opens the doors to Paris with Tabitha and her investigation into this mystery. There is just the right amount of murder, heart, and food. I cannot wait to see what the author gives us next.

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𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗙𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗵 𝗠𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿 by Colleen Cambridge
Published: April 25, 2023 by @kensingtonbooks
Reviewed by: Mel
Format: eARC [thank you @kensingtonbooks and @netgalley]

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝗻𝗷𝗼𝘆
✽ Cozy mysteries
✽ Julia Child and/or cooking
✽ Paris in the 1950’s
✽ A relateable/likeable female MC

While this book took a long time for me to get through, it wasn’t because the book dragged or I read it slowly — it was genuinely because October and November were very slow reading months for me and I was also reading a physical copy of Fourth Wing at the same time.

I absolutely adore Julia Child — her books, movies and shows like Julie & Julia as well as Julia on Max, I’ve grown up with her in my life. When I applied for this ARC, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially because it can be difficult to write completely fictional stories with very famous characters being portrayed.

I love what the author did to tell this story - she cold have easily created a French main character, but it was so much more impactful to have an American character with French roots who also spent time doing physical work for the war effort - it created a wonderful foundation for the strong friendship that develops between Tabitha and Julia.

This was incredibly cozy and comforting - I just wish I had a fireplace to curl up next to while I was reading it!

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Tabitha Knight arrives from Detroit for an extended stay with her French grandfather. Thanks to her neighbor and friend Julia Child, she is learning how to cook for her Grandpère and Oncle Rafe.

The night after Child’s sister, Dort, hosts a party at Child’s apartment, a guest named Thérèse Lognon is discovered dead in the basement. The murder weapon is a knife from Julia’s kitchen.

When Inspector Merveille reveals that a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, was found in the dead woman’s pocket, Tabitha conducts her own investigation to find the actual killer before she or one of her friends ends up in prison. Much to the inspector's consternation, Tabitha gathers clues until another murder occurs. Tabitha’s investigation leads her to Théâtre Monceau, a local English-language theater where Dort worked with the victim, and where most of the suspects are rehearsing an Agatha Christie play.

I bounced between the audiobook and the ebook for this title, which was very convenient. Polly Lee well narrated the audiobook and does a fine job.

On the positive side, I enjoyed the cooking tips Julie offered Tabitha. On the less-than-positive side, the rookie writing had me wanting to edit as I read. Not a good sign. The author made Julia Child sound imbecilic, particularly when it came to the investigation of the murder. She was a CIA agent, for goodness’ sake, and would have been smarter than that. I also found the protagonist irritating… so glad this is a short book.

A quick, light read, even though the subject is murder. It wasn’t a bad book, just not a good one. I doubt I’ll read the rest of the series. 2 stars.

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Loved this great murder, mystery book. Love historical mystery novels. This one said in Paris, love the descriptions of the time. And the twists and turns. I must have her all of those that love historical settings in their murder mysteries.

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Tabitha has just arrived in Paris from Detroit to live with her grandfather. She quickly befriends an American expat named Julia Child, who is currently learning how to cook French food. One day, Tabitha and Julia find a body in Julia’s cellar. The police immediately suspect that Julia is the murderer. In order to clear Julia’s name, Tabitha sets out to find the real killer. As she investigates, Tabitha discovers a conspiracy is taking place under her nose. Can Tabitha expose the conspiracy before she becomes in danger and be able to clear Julia’s name?

I found Tabitha to be a frustrating protagonist. I like how she has a passion for mysteries. However, I did not find her to be a clever heroine. She was very reckless and exposed too much information to those she suspected. She puts her trust in the wrong people and distrusts those she should have trusted. She made many careless decisions that often got her into dangerous situations. Therefore, I found her to be very disappointing. I was hoping for a smart and competent protagonist. Sadly, I got one of the silliest amateur detectives that I have encountered in cozy historical mysteries.

Overall, this novel is about friendship, family, and conspiracies. I did like several other characters, especially Julia Child, her grandfather, and uncle. The mystery was very predictable and had no surprises. Still, I enjoyed the novel. It was very light and fast-paced and made a fun reading for a Sunday afternoon. I was also glad that there was no romance, though it hinted that there may be one in future installments. Thus, if you are a fan of cozy historical mysteries, you should definitely give this a try. I am looking forward to the sequel! I recommend this for fans of Death Below Stairs, Of Manners and Murder, and A Poisonous Journey!

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Colleen Cambridge has taken a unique perspective on an individual we all know very well, gourmet chef and author Julia Child and her time spent in Paris after WWII. In this incarnation, Julia is a student at the Cordon Bleu, her husband Paul works at the American Embassy, and her younger sister Dort is living with them in their small apartment. A chance meeting at an open air market, a community unto itself, brings Julia a new friend in the person of Tabitha Knight, a mechanical whiz with her handy Swiss Army knife. Tabitha has recently arrived in France for an extended stay at the invitation of her French grandfather and has found her culinary skills to be sadly lacking with most of her creations being fed to the pets.

Tabitha, it seems, does have a flair for following clues and when Julia’s favorite chef knife is discovered in the body of a young woman acquaintance of Julia’s sister Tab’s is on the case despite several warnings and reprimands from local police Inspector Merveille .

The city of Paris has a starring role in the story and while drizzly days bring atmosphere to the storyline, they also have a negative effect on Julia’s many attempts at making a perfect mayonnaise, adding a running side-bar gag to the narrative.
This fresh take on Paris post WWII was something I thoroughly enjoyed reading complete with its enticing premise, a delightful cast of characters, engaging mystery to solve and cooking tips from none other than Julia Child.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the copy of Mastering the art of French Murder.

I thought this was an okay mystery, not outstanding and not awful. The characters were not memorable and I would not be likely to read another in the forthcoming series.

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“Mastering the Art of French Murder” by Colleen Cambridge is a captivating mystery set in post-WWII Paris. The story revolves around Tabitha Knight, a young American who is staying with her French grandfather. Through her friendship with Julia Child, Tabitha discovers the joys of cooking and explores the vibrant city of Paris.

The narrative takes an unexpected turn when Tabitha and Julia stumble upon a murder in Julia’s building. Tabitha recognizes the victim as someone she had met the previous night at a party. To her shock, a note in her handwriting was found in the victim’s pocket. Determined to clear her name and find the actual killer, Tabitha embarks on a thrilling journey through the streets of Paris.

So, let’s talk about “Mastering the Art of French Murder” by Colleen Cambridge. May I just say that cover is on point! It caught my eye right away. So, onto the review. This book was an absolute delight! I mean, you’ve got Julia Child doing what she does best - cooking - and then you throw in a friend who solves mysteries. How cool is that? Plus, there are these two adorable Monsieurs and a dog named Oscar Wilde. And it’s all set in Paris after World War II! As if that wasn’t enough, there’s even a connection to Detroit with mentions of Faygo and Boblo Island (I used to go there all the time as a kid). I loved every minute of it!

The writing in this book is fantastic. The pace is fast, keeping you hooked from start to finish. And the mystery itself? So engaging! I couldn’t wait to find out whodunit. Honestly, I’m counting down the days for the second book in the series, “A Murder Most French”!

In a nutshell, “Mastering the Art of French Murder” is a delightful read that combines cooking, mystery-solving, and the magic of post-war Paris in the most captivating way. The author really nailed it with this one. Can’t recommend it enough!

**ARC Via NetGalley**

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It’s post-WWII Paris and the city is beginning to recover its energy. Tabitha Knight has recently arrived from Detroit to tutor Americans in French and is staying with her Grandpere and Oncle Rafe. Her neighbor is the inimitable Julia Child and the two strike up a friendship, visiting the farmers’ market, sampling Julia’s Cordon Bleu school treats, cooking together. Tabitha find herself drawn into solving the murder of a young woman who was killed after she left a party given by Julia’s sister Dort. Tabitha left the party with her and was among the last to see the victim.

To add another twist, the murder weapon was a knife from Julia’s kitchen and the victim had a note in Tabitha’s handwriting in her pocket. Tabitha is eager to help solve the crime, but local Inspector Merveille is much less enthusiastic about her involvement.

Ms. Cambridge can be depended on to create an intriguing story with fascinating, fully rounded characters. Even her supporting cast is filled with well-developed players. The time period is meticulously recreated until you feel you’re there with the cast, experiencing Paris’ rejuvenation.

The mystery is well crafted with plenty of clues to follow as you join Tabitha in her efforts to discover what’s going on before she’s the next victim in this period whodunit.

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Loved this cozy mystery! The setting of post-war Paris was fascinating, beautiful and melancholy. The mention of Russian spies brought suspense.....and of course the FOOD! Having Julia and Paul Child as characters was wonderful and kudos to the author for bringing them to life as supporting characters. I could "hear" Julia in the story perfectly. The main character was great too and I look forward to reading the second book!

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This cozy mystery follows Tabitha, who comes to post-war France to stay with family, makes friends with Julia child, and just so happens to come across a dead body (as is nearly always the case with a cozy mystery). I want to make it clear that the parts of this book that involve Julia Child are simply lovely. Her personality and character come shining through and hearing her speak lovingly about vegetables and kitchen gadgets really added to my enjoyment of the book. BUT - Tabitha is boring and grating. She's a main character that isn't the star of the show. I suppose that would be fine, but she comes across as very young, in actions and spirit. I would have rather seen her have some grit and strength as a result of just having come through a war.

As a cozy, the mystery is just ok. I think I would be more excited to read a book where Julia is our main focus and she's solving some culinary-based crimes. Once I realized that I was only interested in Julia and her chunks of this book, I was eager to zip through whatever Tabitha was doing and get back to some Julia fun! The cover and title are darling, and this was technically proficient with good dialogue and writing, I was just hoping for more of a dynamic duo instead of a main character and guest star situation.

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This was a solid cozy mystery that had me engaged from start to finish! I liked the setting - post World War II France - and the cast of characters, including Tabitha, the main character, her grandfather and his friend, and her neighbor and friend, Julia Child.

While I liked Tabitha's character for the most part, I found myself a little annoyed with her at times because she was both unconcerned about turning over important pieces of evidence and very upset with him for suspecting her. It was hard to be completely on her side when some of her actions actually impeded the investigation. This is pretty typical in cozy mysteries, so it didn't really stop me from enjoying her character for the most part.

Overall, this was a fun read, especially with the Julia Child element and Parisian setting. I did not know who the murderer was until near the end, which is always a good thing!

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If you remember the famous Julia Child, if you've ever walked the streets of Paris and you enjoy a good mystery
read this book. It is a wonderful way to spend a delightful afternoon.

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