Paris…Food…Julia Child….and Rosie the Riveter?Guest- Colleen Cambridge

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 Paris?

18 Thoughts

  1. Welcome, Collen, and congratulations on the new book and series! What fun to write about the talented (and a little quirky) Julia Child.

  2. Collen, congratulations! This sounds delightful.
    I’ve been to France once and loved our trip. I also enjoy cooking.

  3. Love the sound of this series! Cooking is my relaxation, as is baking. Strange for the child of a gourmet chef (home version) who was banned from the kitchen for making a pound of pasta in a small saucepan! I’ve improved. I haven’t been to Paris in years, but I always went in the winter. There is something so lovely about Paris in the snow.

    1. I’ve been known to make a lot of pasta in a small saucepan. LOL. I love cooking too!

  4. Love to cook/bake! Ashamed to say that I had a blind eye to my Mom’s fabulous cooking growing up. It wasn’t until I was out on my own that I figured out how to cook – mostly by going back and asking Mom advice and really paying attention to what she did in the kitchen. As the years progressed, I think I’ve gotten better and better both in skill and ability to turn out some new dishes without absolute fear of failure.

    Although I’ve never been to Paris, I do enjoy fixing and eating many French dishes.

    “Mastering the Art of French Murder” sounds like a fabulous story and I love the time it’s written in. It’s on my TBR list and can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Congratulations on the new book, Colleen! Mixing fact and fiction. What a great combo. Cheers!

  6. How fun! Congrats on the new book, Colleen. I have never been to Paris. I love to cook for an event – a holiday meal or dinner for friends. I’m not that fond of cooking dinner every night. LOL

  7. Welcome back to the blog, Colleen. What a brilliant title! I love that post-war period. I have been to Paris several times and I’ll be there in September.

    1. Thank you! I’m not usually great with titles, but this one just came to me and I loved it (and fortunately, so did my publisher).

      I love Paris. I haven’t been there since I started writing this series, but I am hoping to get there this fall as well.

  8. What a great sounding series. I love the Phyllida Bright books and this sounds every bit as good. My mother was a private caterer so I learned to cook at a very young age. However, I guess because it was something I had to do, I never learned to enjoy it. And, no, I have never been to Paris. Not interested since I don’t speak any French (at least that would be recognizable) and don’t like being snubbed because of my ignorance. I’m happy to stumble through Spanish because my efforts are appreciated.

  9. I’m a lazy cook, and I’ve never been to Paris. But this sounds good.

    Oh, and I don’t believe your spoiler alert for one minute. I bet Julia really did it. 😉

  10. I love to cook and bake! Baking is definitely my favorite. I’ve never been to Paris. Would love to visit for the food!

    Love the book cover!

  11. Welcome Coleen! Congratulations on your book. What a wonderful blog. Your book sounds like it is over the top fun! I do love cooking, and am quite familiar with Julia Child’s cuisine (but not her criminal life). We have a chef friend who won the Julia Child Cooking Challenge, and marvel at all the creations that have developed by following her somewhat quirky style. I have been to Paris, and look forward to many more visits. My granddaughter is taking an advance photography class there this summer, so that may prompt us to return to the City of Light. luis at ole dot travel

  12. I have never been to Paris. I love to cook. I cannot do as much as I used to do since I cannot stand or walk much. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

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