This charming cozy mystery, set in Paris during the postwar years, had me at hello. Tabitha is an American expat, and her best friend, Julia Child, is teaching her how to cook. But one evening, during one of the Childs’s many soirees, a woman is murdered…and the knife in question came from Julia’s kitchen! To make matters even worse, the victim was carrying a card with Tabitha’s name and address on it when she was found. For some young women, this would be a wakeup call, and the morning would see them on the next available plane to Detroit; but Tabitha is made of sterner and more curious stuff, and so she begins snooping.
My thanks go to Net Galley and Kensington Books for the review copy; this book is for sale now.
To cope with the horror of the previous night’s events, Julia is roasting a ham. “I just had to take my mind off everything. Can you even believe it, Tabs? Someone murdered a woman in this building—with my knife! That means they had to have been in my kitchen! This kitchen!”
Like many an amateur sleuth in other mysteries, Tabitha begins poking around. Sometimes she has smart ideas, and at other times she is breathtakingly dense, but there is never a time that I am thinking about the author rather than the protagonist, and that means that I believe the character. There are some familiar tropes and the occasional cliche: “She knew too much!” But it never becomes a problem, possibly because this is a novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Now and then the author breaks down the fifth wall, or nearly so. For example, Tabitha tells us that she knows what to do because she has read plenty of Nancy Drew mysteries.
The solution to this whodunit is fairly transparent, and I am able to predict the solution, along with the conclusion of the additional thread of incipient romance early in the book, but the whole thing is so adorable that I never become annoyed. “Just like an Agatha Christie novel—all the questions answered at the end, and the villain is caught, and everyone else is happy.”
Because I had fallen behind, I supplemented my review copy with the audio version, obtained from Seattle Bibliocommons, and narrator Polly Lee does a brilliant imitation of Julia Child! In fact, all of the passages involving Julia are brilliant, and that is my favorite aspect of this story.
Sometimes an author manages to step on multiple pet peeves of mine, and yet I emerge pleasantly entertained anyway, and that’s what has happened here. This is light reading, but it isn’t insipid. I look forward to reading the next in this lovely new series. Recommended to cozy readers.