Mystery / Suspense
St. Martin’s Press
August 1, 2023
New from the #1 bestselling co-author of The Golden Couple and The Wife Between Us!
"I'm a huge fan of Sarah Pekkanen's books, and GONE TONIGHT is her best yet." —Colleen Hoover
Catherine Sterling thinks she knows her mother. Ruth Sterling is quiet, hardworking, and lives for her daughter. All her life, it's been just the two of them against the world. But now, Catherine is ready to spread her wings, move from home, and begin a new career. And Ruth Sterling will do anything to prevent that from happening.
Ruth Sterling thinks she knows her daughter. Catherine would never rebel, would never question anything about her mother's past or background. But when Ruth's desperate quest to keep her daughter by her side begins to reveal cracks in Ruth's carefully-constructed world, both mother and daughter begin a dance of deception.
I love a good mystery/suspense novel, but this one just fell flat for me.
The entire build up of Catherine believing her mother has alzheimer’s and Ruth questioning if her daughter has violent tendencies just didn’t work for me.
To be honest, most of the book I was bored. Everything happened in the past, which is filled in so slowly it was painful at times, or in the climax of the book, which I admit, was pretty good!
What would have worked better for me would’ve been if we’d learned Ruth’s story in real time, and then time jumped to the present time to learn how it ends. The format the author chose just dragged for me. I also needed more about Catherine’s father, to really establish his character, I felt he was very glossed over. He felt one dimensional.
What I did enjoy was the background of Ruth and the secrets she’s hiding. The climax was very engaging and I didn’t want to stop listening to the audiobook at that point.
Overall, this was a good story that was executed in a way that I personally did not find as enjoyable as I would’ve liked.
You Won't Believe Me
Mystery / Thriller / Horror
June 27, 2023
May 29 - June 4, 2023
Brace yourself for the unexpected in this chilling novel that will thrill suspense and horror readers alike! Willow can't remember what landed her in captivity, but she'll do anything to survive. For fans of Natasha Preston and Stephen King.
Willow is alone, confined to a bed with restraints. She can't remember how she got there…or how long she's been there.
An old lady appears in her room to feed her twice a day. Granny doesn't talk, but Willow can hear thumping from somewhere beyond her door. It's not Granny's shuffling steps. It's too loud to be Granny's cat. Is it someone? Something?
Then Granny's cat dies in Willow's room. And Granny follows a few days later. Willow will do anything to survive. But freeing herself from her bed is only the beginning… Because there is someone else in the house. Who is this mysterious teen who calls himself Elijah? And is he the reason she's hostage or the key to her escape?
When Willow wakes up tied to a bed with no memory of how she got there, she slowly begins to try and piece together what happened. She knows that a deadly virus had been wrecking havoc and that her father had been a lead scientist working on a cure. But beyond that… nothing. She’s fed every day by an elderly woman who calls herself “Granny”… until “Granny” succumbs to the deadly virus right in front of Willow, leaving her tied to a bed with nobody to help.
Except she’s not alone, there’s another captive. A teenage boy. In whispers, he explains that the world has been destroyed by the second wave of the virus. That all they have left is each other.
But, could it be true? And why can’t she remember what’s happened to her?
This book is all over the place in the very best way. You think it’s one type of book, then you realize it’s something else, only in the end to realize you were completely wrong. Some readers will absolutely hate that, but as someone who enjoys many genres, it was such a fun ride.
For much of the book, the chapters begin with text conversations between Willow and her crush from school, August, from before she found herself tied up. The significance of this isn’t truly revealed until the latter portion of the book and ooooh is it juicy!
If you’re looking for something different that will keep you guessing, this is the book for you! And with that ending, I really wish there was a sequel in the works!
The Music of Bees
April 1, 2021
April 21 - May 1, 2023
A heartwarming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, following three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, who are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing—and maybe even a second chance—just when they least expect it.
Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn't turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren't helping her feel better these days.
In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake—a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County—while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake's sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.
And then there's Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice's ad for part-time farm help, he's shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees--and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.
Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don't turn out the way you expect.
The Music of Bees is a beautiful story of three unlikely people coming together and forming a found-family. Alice, a 50-something widow, who just wants to live her life and raise her bees. Jake, an 18 year old boy who’s recent status as paraplegic has put an end of his ever getting out from under his horrible father’s thumb. And Harry, whose severe anxiety has resulted in some bad life choices and trouble finding and keeping a job.
When these three come together, they unwittingly help each other, while finding themselves.
This book started out kind of boring, not gonna lie. I considered quitting early on because I just wasn’t feeling it. I stuck with it though, and I’m glad I did, because before long I was hooked. Watching these three characters come together and grow was wonderful. They’re a very unlikely trio, but somehow, together they worked.
When Alice puts out an ad looking for help with her beekeeping, Jake jumps at the chance to leave his parents home. Harry meanwhile, is terrified of bees, but he applies for the job because he loves doing the handyman work required to help Alice out.
They bond over the bees and form a beautiful friendship. When big agro threatens the local pollinators, they band together to stand up for the bees.
I love the unlikely relationship between the three and the awareness of pesticides and their affect on our pollinators, especially the bees.
Lucky Santangelo #2
January 1, 1985
March 5 - April 21, 2023
SHE’S A HOT-BLOODED BEAUTY IN LOVE WITH POWER, HUNGRY FOR PLEASURE… WILD, NOTORIOUS, TROUBLE… SHE’S… LUCKY. THE FABULOUS HEROINE OF CHANCES RETURNS. With the sensual grace of a panther, Lucky Santangelo prowled her Las Vegas casino, restless, ready, eager for action. That night began a dazzling odyssey, filled with dangerous passion and sun-drenched sex, sadistic vengeance and breathless suspense. From the decadent luxury of California, to Paris, New York and a private Greek island, Lucky fought for her father’s honor, for ruthless triumph, for the wild card of a fabulous love. Her rivals; an ice-cold Hollywood wife…a much-married heiress strung out on cocaine…a jaded magnate hooked on power…a crazed hoodlum lusting for murder. But Lucky was a gambIer and a lover, a woman who ruled her empire and pursued her man with the potent Santangelo strength … her way, on her terms, whatever the odds. Jackie Collins tops the sensational success of Hollywood Wives and Chances with Lucky, “so hot it will have to be printed on asbestos.”
The Lucky Santangelo series by Jackie Collins is pure trash. It’s wild, over the top, and pure fun. It’s filthy rich people doing a lot of awful things, both to themselves and to others. But dangit, I rooted for things to work out!
While this is book 2 in the series, Collins inserts plenty of excerpts from book 1 to catch up any readers who missed the first or refresh the memories of those who have read it.
Lucky is a great character. After a traumatic childhood and essentially being raised by nannies, all she wants is the approval of her father. Now that she’s a grown woman and has proved that she can stand with the men in the business world, she’s not going to let anyone stand in her way. She will do whatever it takes to make her goals come true. And right now? That goal is building her very own hotel in Atlantic City.
Other notable characters in this book:
Gino Santangelo, Lucky’s father, the former gangster and Vegas hotshot.
Octavia Stanislopolus: Lucky’s best friend from boarding school, whom she has lost touch with.
Lenny Golden: An up an coming comedian who keeps crossing paths with Lucky.
So much happens in this book, I can’t even describe it without spoilers.
This book is old, like… older than me… so finding a print copy may be a task. I found the whole series on eBay and it was well worth the $25 I spent. It is sold online in ebook format too though. But basically, it’s like reading a soap opera. And I hate soap operas.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Historical Fiction / Drama / LGBTQ
Simon & Schuster Audio
June 13, 2017
May 1 - 11, 2023
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book. I chose to read it because a good friend of mine said that “BookTok is raving about this book!” So, I put myself on the hold list at the library, and bided my time.
What an excellent book. When Evelyn Hugo sits down with unknown journalist, Monique Grant, all Monique expects to get is a story for the magazine she works for. Little did she know, Evelyn had bigger plans for her—she wants Monique to write her life story.
After a slow start (sorry Monique, you just didn’t hold my interest!) I was engaged from the moment Evelyn begins to tell her tale. From growing up a poor immigrant, to marrying a man as a teenager and running off to Los Angeles with him, and right up til present day. Who were Evelyn’s seven husbands? What led her to each of them? Why did her marriages end? And the biggest question of all—who was Evelyn Hugo’s one true love?
Now, from the get go we knew there had to be some reason Evelyn chose Monique to write her story, and I had theories! I was dead wrong. I was so convinced that my theory was right that I missed all the clues pointing to what the real reason was. This made it all the more fun!
Now, if you hate historical fiction, don’t worry. This doesn’t feel like historical fiction. Yes, Evelyn is talking about Hollywood in the 1950s and onward, but the Hollywood glamor shines so bright you forget you’re not in present time!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is an excellent book and I absolutely recommend it!
The Spirit Girls
Rylan Flynn #1
May 9, 2023
April 22 - 30, 2023
“Where are you taking me?” Rylan follows the figure through the trees. The girl’s dark ponytail swings as she turns back, then walks on without answering. Deep in the woods, she disappears… and Rylan finds her body, mouth wide in a silent, final plea for help.
Rylan Flynn has always been able to see what others don’t—the restless spirits haunting Ashby, Indiana. She’s learned to live with her “gift” but sometimes she longs to escape.
The woods have always been a peaceful place for Rylan. But on a visit to her aunt’s cabin, she catches sight of a spirit in the trees. The ghost of a young woman approaches, leading Rylan to her body.
With a flood of horror, Rylan realizes that the girl, Celeste Monroe, has been murdered. An outgoing newcomer to town, Celeste had no enemies. Who on earth would want to see her dead?
When a coin carved with strange symbols is discovered in Celeste’s throat, it’s clear that a twisted, cold-blooded killer is at work.
Rylan’s abilities could be the only way to prevent further deaths. But Ashby’s handsome head detective, Ford Pierce, has made it very clear that he doesn’t want her help.
And any unexplained knowledge of the case could make Rylan the perfect suspect.
When another body is discovered and blood at the scene points to Rylan’s family, she is more determined than ever to uncover the truth. She must race against time to untangle a web of dark secrets… but can she find answers before the murderer claims another victim?
The Spirit Girls is a fun paranormal mystery novel that is very quick, easy, and enjoyable to read.
Rylan sees ghosts. She talks to them, she helps them cross over, and she has a YouTube channel (and a BFF for a camerawoman) to share her tales of ghostly encounters while also picking up clients and helping their ghosts cross over.
Rylan is a great character. She’s both easy to understand, and also complex. What I love about Rylan is that she has secrets and baggage, namely that her mother was murdered in the house and still haunts her bedroom where she was killed. (This is revealed in chapter 2, so not really a spoiler.) Rylan is also a hoarder. It’s hard to tell exactly how extreme her hoarding is, but… it’s pretty bad. I’m super curious to see how this progresses as the series goes on. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book where the protagonist has a hoarding disorder, so this was a unique and welcome addition to Rylan’s character.
In this book, Rylan becomes involved in the ritualistic murder of a teenage girl, when the ghost of said girl guides Rylan to her body and then disappears. As the bodies begin to stack up, and the murder investigation hits closer to home than she’d like, Rylan feels as though she has no choice but to solve the crime herself.
I loved the mystery in this book. I had suspicions about who the killer was, but I didn’t really know until the big reveal. I loved the characters. I loved the pacing. But I have one major gripe, that I really hope will be resolved before publication—after the first chapter or two, the author quits using contractions, leaving the dialogue feeling very stilted and unnatural. If we were talking about one character who doesn’t use contractions, that would be a character quirk. But no. This is every character from about chapter 3 til the end. It drove me batty. It wasn’t enough for me to quit the book, but it did pull me out of the story.
With that said, will I continue with this series? Absolutely! There are the beginnings of a potential romance and I’m really curious to see how that progresses and what it could mean for Rylan’s hoarding issues. And I’d love for her mother to cross over and find peace at some point.
If you can overlook the lack of contractions, this is a paranormal mystery you don’t want to miss!
Huge thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!
Whats New With Me
I think spring is finally here in Minnesota. After a brief few days in April of 70* weather, we had yet another snow storm. It was a very snowy winter, and I am forever grateful to have been recruited to a (mostly) work from home day job!
It’s finally back up to the 70’s and as I write this, I am sitting on my back patio with the sun shining and the birds chirping. I don’t think there are any sounds better than this!
Yesterday I hauled compost from the country yard waste site and topped off my raised garden bed, and today I planted some squash seeds (Kuri and Sunrise varieties) that I saved from some squash I bought from the farmers market last year. I’m hoping I get a nice yield, as I’m giving up half my raised garden bed for this trial! (The last time I grew squash, pumpkin, and melon, it was in the ground in another part of my yard that we have grassed over.) The other half of my raised bed will be home to some peas, beans, peppers, and 1-2 tomato plants (last year I had maybe 5 tomato plants and soooo many went to waste because I couldn’t consume them that quickly!) I’m very excited to start growing veggies again.
In the writing world, I’m (very) slowly re-reading Something I’m Good At and taking notes so I don’t make any continuity errors in the yet-to-be-titled stand alone sequel. After essentially 4 years of zero inspiration/motivation to flex my creative muscles with writing, I think I’m ready. I have a lofty goal to finish this book before the end of 2023, but let’s be honest, that’s unlikely. Once I finish my notes from book 1, maybe I’ll set myself some shorter goals, such as: Complete Outline by ___. Write X chapters by ___. You get the drift.
Also in the writing world, I have about 18,000 words written in my “monster” book that I started a few years ago and have been revisiting from time to time. It’s also a YA romance. I’ve hit a wall though, so that’s on the back burner while I work on the SIGA sequel.
In life, like I said before, I’m loving my WFH job. My manager/supervisor are great. The work is typically not too challenging, so my stress level is way down from my previous job. And getting to sit outside on my patio and work in the spring/summer is so good for the soul. I’m also pretty good at my job, so that’s always nice, right?
I’m also very excited because in June I’ll be attending the Taylor Swift Eras Tour in Minneapolis. I have my Folklore/Evermore outfit ready to go! (I’m low key keeping my eye out for cheap tix for the second show. Don’t tell my husband! 🤫) I also won tickets from the radio to see Ed Sheeran in Minneapolis in August, so I’m pretty stoked to take my 16 year old to their first ever concert… and all it’ll cost me is parking!
Aside from that, my time these days is spent keeping my house standing, driving my youngest to lessons, trying to eat healthy and get back in the exercise habit (I’m trying running again… Ahhh!), and working my publishing side gig for Melange Books (and its imprints, Satin Romance and Fire & Ice Young Adult Books). I love the work that I do for them—cover design, web updates, and formatting—and honestly, if it paid the bills I would quit my day job in a heartbeat!
So… that’s what’s new! Leave a comment below if you have anything exciting happening in your life!
Size 12 and Ready to Rock
Heather Wells #4
William Morrow Paperbacks
July 10, 2012
April 15 - 20, 2023
After dallying with sexy vampires and ingeniously reinterpreting the Dracula legend (Insatiable, Overbite), #1 New York Times bestseller Meg Cabot is ready to rock ’n’ roll once more with Heather Wells.
The un-petite assistant New York City college dorm director and sometime sleuth is back in Size 12 and Ready to Rock—a delectable comedy mystery that proves once more that the much beloved author of The Princess Diaries rules in the realm of grown-up women’s fiction as well. Heather’s got her hands full when a pop star and her reality TV camera crew invade the dorm—bringing with them a summer camp-full of adoring teen admirers—only to have an inconvenient homicide spoil the fun.
There’s romance, treachery, merry mayhem and music—just the ticket for readers who like to rock out on the hip contemporary singleton fiction of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, and Jane Green.
Heather Wells is back with yet another death in the college residence hall she works in. This time, it’s her new boss, the interim residence hall director. To add to the chaos, Tania Trace, the woman who stole her ex-fiance, has moved her teen Rock Camp to Heather’s empty-for-the-summer residence hall!
This is the best Heather Wells book in the series. (So far. I read book 5 AGES ago, and I could not tell you what happened. I will be re-reading so I can assess if it’s better than this one.)
What I loved most in this book was that Tania Trace becomes a real person. In the previous books we’ve heard about Tania, but we’ve never actually met her. Everything we knew was Heather’s opinions of her, and I think we can all agree that Heather has major bias toward the other woman! Now that we actually meet this fiance-stealing-villian… she’s not a bad person. I actually really liked Tania and I was very happy that Meg Cabot gave her a chance to try and clear her name.
As for the murder, Heather wants no part of this investigation. She does, however, have an obligation to keep the Tania Trace Rock Campers safe during their stay in her residence hall. And somehow, because that’s just Heather’s luck, she gets caught up in it all.
This is a solid addition to the Heather Wells series and if you’ve made it through book 3, I promise you won’t want to miss book 4!
Zando Young Readers
April 11, 2023
April 2 - 17, 2023
Back to the Future meets The Joy Luck Club in this YA contemporary romance about a Korean American girl sent back to the ’90s to (reluctantly) help her teenage mom win Homecoming Queen.
Being a first-generation Asian American immigrant is hard. You know what’s harder? Being the daughter of one. Samantha Kang has never gotten along with her mother, Priscilla—and has never understood her bougie-nightmare, John Hughes high school expectations. After a huge fight between them, Sam is desperate to move forward—but instead, finds herself thrown back. Way back.
To her shock, Sam finds herself back in high school . . . in the ’90s . . . with a 17-year-old Priscilla. Now this Gen Z girl must try to fit into an analog world. She’s got the fashion down, but everything else is baffling. What is “microfiche”? What’s with the casual racism and misogyny? And why does it feel like Priscilla is someone she could actually be . . . friends with?
Sam's blast to the past has her finding the right romance in the wrong time while questioning everything she thought she knew about her mom . . . and herself. Will Sam figure out what she needs to do to fix things for her mom so that she can go back to a time she understands? Brimming with heart and humor, Maurene Goo’s time-travel romance asks big questions about what exactly one inherits and loses in the immigrant experience.
I went into this book hoping for all the 90s nostalgia. The book takes place in 1995, and I certainly got the 90s vibes. It was so much fun flashing back to the time of my childhood. (In 1995 I was a whole ten years old.)
Sam and her mother, Pricilla, do NOT get along. Pricilla was the first generation Korean-American living with a single mother barely making ends meet, trying to live the stereotypical American dream, while Sam is a Gen Z social justice/climate warrior who grew up very privileged. After a huge fight with her mom, Sam is thrown back in time to 1995. Sam is convinced she needs to help her mom win homecoming queen, then all will be well in the future.
The “magic” in this book is light, existing only as the plot device to throw Sam together with her mother, as a teenager. This really is a story of a mother/daughter relationship, with a romance side plot thrown in for good measure.
As someone who was once a teenage girl herself, as well as being a mother to a teenager now, I really felt that I could see the POV of both Sam and Pricilla. I definitely identified a little more with Pricilla, probably because we’re both millennials. Sam actually annoyed me quite a bit by taking every little thing she sees as not politically correct personally.
I loved the romance that was thrown in. I’m not going to say anything more on that front, except that I really enjoyed it.
The ending to this book was perfect. I can’t say how it ends, but I really liked it. Everything fell together exactly as it should.
Four Found Dead
Natalie D. Richards
May 2, 2023
December 30, 2022 - January 29, 2023
At the movie theater where Jo works, the last show has ended. But the nightmare is just beginning.
Tonight, Tempest Theaters is closing forever, the last remaining business in a defunct shopping mall. The moviegoers have left, and Jo and her six coworkers have the final shift, cleaning up popcorn and mopping floors for the last time.
But after an unexpected altercation puts everyone on edge, the power goes out. Their manager disappears, along with the keys to the lobby doors and the theater safe, where the crew's phones are locked each shift. Then, the crew's tension turns to terror when Jo discovers the dead body of one of her co-workers.
Now their only chance to escape the murderer in their midst is through the dark, shuttered mall. With its boarded-up exits and disabled fire alarms, the complex is filled with hiding places for both pursuer and pursued. In order to survive this night, Jo and her friends must trust one another, navigate the sprawling ruins of the mall, and outwit a killer before he kills again.
This is my third book by Natalie D. Richards so I was really sad that this was a 3 star read for me. Granted, the other two books I read were in 2016 (My Secret to Tell and One Was Lost), and maybe I’ve changed as a readers since then. That could be a part of it, but I do think there’s more to it than that.
While Richards’ previous novels were mystery/suspense… Four Found Dead reads more like the plot to a teen slasher flick. Because that’s what it is. A group of teenagers trapped in an abandoned mall with a killer. There were no real surprises and it all felt pretty repetitive.
One thing Richards’ does that I enjoy is include little snippets that don’t belong in the story, sort of as clues to something else that’s going on. And in the other two books I really enjoyed those. I enjoyed them in this book as well, but in the end they didn’t have the same impact as the previous books I read.
This book is told through the eyes of Jo. The movie theatre she’s worked at for years is shuttering its doors for the last time, and all she and her friends/coworkers want to do is close things up and head out to enjoy some late night pancakes. But then things get weird and before they know it, one of Jo’s friends is dead. Together, the group must illude a killer.
This could be awesome. But we know who the killer is from the get go. And we’re never truly given a solid motive for their actions.
What I did enjoy was the nostalgia, for me, of movie theatre employment. I sold popcorn and movie tickets myself as a teen my senior year of high school through college. To this day, it was probably the greatest job I’ve ever had. Movie theatre friendships are built to last. Alas, that nostalgia wasn’t enough to save this book for me.
I just needed…. more. More motive revealed. More build up to the start of the killing spree. And more variation of what happens while they’re on the mall.
I’m willing to give Richards another chance. She has plenty of books to choose from!
Have you read Four Found Dead? Did it work for you?
Mastering the Art of French Murder
An American in Paris #1
April 25, 2023
January 29 - March 5, 2023
Set in the City of Light and starring Julia Child’s (fictional) best friend, confidant, and fellow American, this Magnifique new historical mystery series from the acclaimed author of Murder at Mallowan Hall combines a fresh perspective on the iconic chef’s years in post-WWII Paris with a delicious mystery and a unique culinary twist. Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Marie Benedict, and of course, Julia Child alike! As Paris rediscovers its joie de vivre, Tabitha Knight, who recently arrived from Detroit for an extended stay with her French grandfather, is on her own journey of discovery. Paris isn’t just the City of Light; it’s the city of history, romance, stunning architecture . . . and food. Thanks to her neighbour and friend Julia Child, another ex-pat who’s fallen head over heels for Paris, Tabitha is learning how to cook for her Grandpère and Oncle Rafe. Between tutoring Americans in French, visiting the market, and eagerly sampling the results of Julia’s studies at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, Tabitha’s sojourn is proving thoroughly delightful. That is, until the cold December day they return to Julia’s building and learn that a body has been found in the cellar. Tabitha recognizes the victim as a woman she’d met only the night before, at a party given by Julia’s sister, Dort. The murder weapon found nearby is recognizable too—a knife from Julia’s kitchen. Tabitha is eager to help the investigation but is shocked when Inspector Merveille reveals that a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, was found in the dead woman’s pocket. Is this murder a case of international intrigue, or something far more personal? From the shadows of the Tour Eiffel at midnight to the tiny third-floor Child kitchen to the grungy streets of Montmartre, Tabitha navigates through the city hoping to find the real killer before she or one of her friends ends up in prison . . . or worse.
Mastering the Art of French Murder was an uneven book for me. The introduction in the beginning was cute, but things quickly slowed down, before the book ended with a satisfying bang.
Historical fiction is hit or miss for me, and this one leans toward a miss due to the very stilted narrative. It felt as though the author knew she was writing to a modern audience and felt the need to over-explain things that didn’t need to be over-explained. Mind you, I was not alive in the 1950s when this book takes place, but I have a hard time believing anybody communicated in the way these characters often communicated.
I also felt like the author mentioned the fact that the heroine, Tabitha, was a “Rosie the Riveter” far too many times—once is enough. It was implied far too often that Tabitha “isn’t like most women”, which is an overly used trope that drives me crazy.
As far as the mystery, it dragged. The inspecteur was not developed well enough for me, which I think was the intention, but it didn’t do the book any favorites in my opinion. My guess is the author plans to slowly build him up over the couse of the series.
As far as Julie Child’s role in this book, I found it charming. It was cute the way Tabitha was terrible in the kitchen and she leaned on Julia to guide her so she could cook for her grandpère and uncle, as a thank you for allowing her to stay with them in Paris. Reading this fictional account of Julia made me interested to learn more about her actual history.
Ultimately, I think if you’re a fan of cozy mysteries and historicals, this could be the book for you. Sadly, cozy mysteries have never done it for me, and as a historical, for me this was a miss.