Colleen Cambridge’s Mastering the Art of French Murder is a delightful cozy mystery set in post-World War II Paris with a cast of American expats, including Julia Child.
Tabitha Knight is settling into life in Paris, living with her grandfather and Oncle Rafe. Tabitha spends her days exploring the City of Light, tutoring her fellow Americans in French and learning how to cook from her best friend and neighbor, student chef Julia Child. When a young woman with ties to the Child family is found murdered in their apartment building—killed by a knife from Julia’s kitchen, no less—the police turn their attention to the chef-in-training. The investigation is further complicated when a note written by Tabitha is discovered in the victim’s pocket. To clear both their names, Tabitha sets out to discover who killed the woman and why.
Cambridge skillfully blends fact with fiction in Mastering the Art of French Murder. Julia Child, along with her husband and sister, really did live in Paris in 1949, but Tabitha and her family are fictional characters. Cambridge captures Julia’s joie de vivre and passion for French cuisine, transporting readers into her kitchen during her early years at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Cambridge’s Julia whips up several meals during the mystery, each more mouthwatering than the last.
A figure as iconic as Julia could overshadow the rest of the characters, but Tabitha is a charming protagonist. She’s brave, resourceful and fiercely loyal to her friends and family, and while the former factory worker isn’t a perfect detective, her instincts are sharp. Her charming chemistry with the lead detective, Inspecteur Merveille, is an added bonus that will have readers rooting for their relationship to deepen in future books.
Mastering the Art of French Murder is a love letter to the sights, sounds and delights of Paris, from the small daily markets to the thriving nightlife. Readers will enjoy navigating the city alongside Tabitha as she untangles the mystery, as well as getting to see a whole new side of the beloved Julia Child.