A Murder Most French
April 15, 2024

Book Review

A Murder Most French

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


In post WW2 Paris, the city is gradually recovering and springing back to life. Posted to Paris with her American diplomat husband, Paul, a young Julia Child is studying the culinary arts at Le Condon Bleu cooking school.

Julia has befriended another young American woman, Tabitha Knight, living with her grandfather and his friend, Rafe. Since Tabitha knows little about cooking but needs to prepare evening meals daily for her dear messieurs, Julia has been teaching her some simple (but delicious) recipes.

Julia has also invited Tabitha to a demonstration by the renowned Chef, Richard Beauchêne at Le Cordon Bleu. His old business partner, Chef Loyer had recently returned from his war time exile in London and there were rumours that they planned to re-open their famous restaurant, Maison de Verre. Just before the start of the demonstration, a gift of a bottle of wine was delivered to Chef Beauchêne, a fine old wine that has surely been hidden away somewhere during the occupation. The Chef can’t resist opening it and tasting it on the spot. Unfortunately, it will be the last thing he ever tastes as he collapses and dies almost immediately.

Tabitha and Julia are convinced that Chef Beauchêne has been poisoned by the wine, as is their old friend Inspector Merveille of the Sûrete. As Tabitha was nearly killed recently while investigating the death of a young woman, Merveille warns them not to get involved in the investigation, but of course that was never going to happen. Tabitha can’t help being curious and intrepid and Julia is always happy to help. Tabitha also likes to find excuses to visit the handsome Merveille at the police station, although is disappointed to discover he has a photo of his fiancée on his desk. However, her curiosity about the Chef’s murder amateur sleuthing will once again put her danger.

The sights and sounds of Paris and the descriptions of Julia’s recipes are a wonderful backdrop to this murder mystery. Tabitha and Julia’s daily visits to the nearby market are full of colour as they select the fresh food on offer, while sharing local gossip with the stall holders. When Julia asks the mushroom seller for champignons for her evening meal, he leads her into the Paris catacombs to pick them and she is fascinated to learn how the underground chambers were used during the war, both by the Parisians and the Nazis. With a cast of wonderful characters and mouth-watering descriptions of Julia’s cooking in her tiny kitchen, this is an excellent addition to this fun and entertaining series.

With thanks to Kensington Books via Netgalley for a copy to read.

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