"Mastering the Art of French Murder" | Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
The easy-to-read murder mystery, “Mastering the Art of French Murder,” takes place in the post-World War II era. The story is narrated by Tabitha Knight, who like many young American women during that time, lost her job as a riveter at the Willow Run Bomber Plant due to the influx of soldiers returning from the war.
Tabitha decided to leave Detroit and go to live with her French grandfather in Paris. Tabitha soon befriends her neighbor across the street, Julia Child. Julia moved to Paris with her husband Paul who is stationed in Paris to assist with the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to support the Marshall Plan. Tabitha spends her days tutoring Americans in French, visiting the market each day with Julia Child and learning to cook from Julia as well.
Everything is clicking right along until they return from market one day to find Julia’s maid in a tizzy. They soon learn that there's the body of a dead woman in basement of Julia’s building. Tabitha recognizes the murdered woman as a guest from the party held the previous night in the Child’s apartment.
Julia’s sister Dort (Dorothy), who lives with the Childs, works at an English- speaking theater and is always having the troupe over to party after productions. Tabitha actually rode the elevator with the murdered woman on the night of the party and may have been the last person to see the woman alive.
Tabitha’s life quickly becomes more complicated when Inspector Merveille tells her that the dead woman had a note in her pocket with Tabitha’s name and phone number on it. Tabitha worries that they are all suspects. Being the daughter of a detective and an avid reader of murder mysteries, she begins her own investigation. As the murders mount, her own life is jeopardized.
“Mastering the Art of French Murder” has a simple plot, is somewhat predictable, but provides wonderful descriptions of 1950s Paris. Also, readers won’t help but laugh as they envision Julia trying to teach Tabitha to cook. This who-dun-it leaves you wanting to visit the sights of Paris and devour its scrumptious cuisine.