Mastering the Art of French Murder

by Brian Kenney

Cambridge’s newest series has everything going for it. A magical setting: Paris awakening after World War II, with its fabled lights returning and food overflowing in the marketplaces. A great lead: sophisticated Tabitha Knight, who’s abandoned Detroit, and a dull fiancé, to live with her older French uncle and his longtime partner. Plus some star power: Tabitha’s buddy and neighbor, the young Julia Child, a student at Le Cordon Bleu who can always be found in her kitchen, stuffing some poor bird. Cambridge does a brilliant job capturing Julia with her quirky diction, fluty enunciation, and joie de vivre. But some of that joie flies out the window when a young woman is found dead in Julia’s basement; the murder weapon is a knife from Julia’s kitchen; and a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, is found on the woman’s person. Tabitha—every bit the modern, independent woman—heads off to track down leads, break into the victim’s apartment, and befriend an American theater group, all the while drawing the ire—and maybe admiration?—of the taciturn, but so very handsome, Inspector Merveille. 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.

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