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by Colleen Cambridge

Pub Date: April 25th, 2023
ISBN: 9781496739599
Publisher: Kensington

Murder complicates the lives of future cookbook writer Julia Child’s friends in 1949 Paris.

Julia has a mayonnaise problem. Although her cuisine runs rings around that of her half-French friend Tabitha Knight, who’s left her work at an American bomber plant to give French lessons to relocated fellow citizens, her mayonnaise remains stubbornly on-again, off-again. She and Tabitha are distracted from this existential dilemma by the discovery of a corpse stabbed to death in their building’s cellar. To her considerable discomfort, Tabitha recognizes the body as that of Thérèse Lognon, an attendee at a party given the night before by Julia’s younger sister, Dorothy, for her colleagues in the American Club Theater, whose current production of And Then There Were None at the Théâtre Monceau featured Thérèse checking garments in the cloakroom. The leading suspects all have more prominent roles in the production: Thad Whiting as sound and lighting designer, Johnny Cantrell as stage manager and set designer, and Neil Kingsley as ill-fated character Philip Lombard. Tabitha’s informal but highly irregular investigations, which motivate a near-fatal collision between her bicycle and a car that speeds away, bring her up so often against Inspecteur Étienne Merveille that it’s a wonder she’s still walking around free when the killer claims a second victim. Though she’s no great shakes as a detective, Tabitha is miles ahead of Merveille in tying the two deaths to a timely but unconvincing Russian spy ring. Throughout it all, Child remains as serenely marginal and undeveloped a character as Agatha Christie was in Cambridge’s A Trace of Poison (2022), though she does eventually solve that mayonnaise problem.

A subdued period piece that never lives up to its promising title.