Friday, September 2, 2022


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.

I received a copy of Mastering the Art of French Murder from NetGalley in exchange for this review


About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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