Jessie: In New Hampshire where the temperatures have reached 78 degrees!
I am just delighted to welcome Colleen Cambridge to the blog today. She is a vibrant, enthusiastic person and her writing reflects her sparkling personality. If you are not familiar with her new series I suggest your run right out and find a copy!
Paris…Food…Julia Child….and Rosie the Riveter?
by Colleen Cambridge
Those elements the basis for my brand-new historical mystery series and I love every single one of them!
Over the last two years, I’ve been promoting my Phyllida Bright Mystery series, which features Agatha Christie’s housekeeper as an amateur sleuth in 1930s England. I’ve had a blast writing about the world’s bestselling novelist of all time, even though she certainly doesn’t take center stage in those books (Murder at Mallowan Hall, A Trace of Poison). It’s more fun, in my opinion, to be writing a protagonist whose life we don’t know about—like that of Phyllida Bright, housekeeper extraordinaire, but to also have that famous Dame Agatha’s wisdom and insight (and some Easter eggs about her own stories) appear in the book.
My new historical mystery series, known as the An American in Paris Mysteries, takes another famous, groundbreaking female—Julia Child—and gives her a good friend (my protagonist), and then plops both of them in the middle of a murder mystery in the City of Light.
Mastering the Art of French Murder (yes, the title is an homage to Julia’s famous cookbook) takes place in a Paris that is awakening from austerity of the Occupation. It’s December 1949, and the last of the rationing (for coffee) has finally ended. The City of Light is coming alive—her iconic lights have been relit, she’s rich with tourists, the markets are filled with food and shoppers…and Tabitha Knight, a former Rosie the Riveter, has just come to live in Paris with her grandfather.
Tabitha worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant (outside of Detroit) during the war, but now that the war is over and the troops have returned home and are going back to work, she’s at loose ends. She doesn’t want to be a teacher or a nurse, and she’s definitely not ready to get married and have children…so when she’s invited for an extended visit and to live with her grandfather and his “friend” Oncle Rafe in Paris—she goes!
Because her mother is French, Tabitha speaks the language fluently. She’s also pretty handy with a screwdriver and always carries a Swiss Army knife in her pocket. It’s those two skills—plus the fact that she can’t cook to save her life—that create the foundation of her friendship with another American expat who lives across the street from her: Julia Child.
Julia and Tabitha go to the outdoor food market daily (where Tabitha, as a single, attractive American, is always a target of goodnatured matchmaking), and Julia guides her friend on what to buy and what to cook that night for dinner for her grand-père and his friend, known to Tabitha as Oncle Rafe.
One day when Julia and Tabitha return to Julia’s apartment, with their market bags filled with produce, chicken, wine, eggs, and more, they discover that a dead body has been found in the cellar of the building.
And…Julia’s chef’s knife is lying next to it, bloody and damning.
SPOILER ALERT: Julia Child did not murder anyone!
But when the serious and stoic Inspecteur Merveille begins to look at Julia and Tabitha as potential murder suspects, Tabitha decides she’d rather spend her time trying to prove their innocence than to learn how to make a good omelette or roast a chicken (although she learns how to do both!).
This book has been an absolute joy to write, and I hope that readers will have as much fun with Tabitha and Julia’s adventures as I did!
Readers, do you love to cook? Have you ever been to