Cozy, Detective, Historical, Mystery

Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge


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.

My Thoughts

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 (uncle & grandfather) 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 – exuberant 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.”

Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Published By: Kensington Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy