Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
7:32 pm EDT
Friday, September 18, 2020

‘Minced, Marinated, and Murdered: A French Culinary Mystery’ 

By Noël Balen and Vanessa Barrot. A tour of Paris highlighted by visits with great chefs is marred when the chefs keep turning up dead.

This is the first book in the Gourmet Crimes series from Le French Book, a publisher that translates popular French novels into English. The translator for this book was Anne Trager, founder of the company.

My first word of caution is don’t read this book when you’re hungry. The incredible French cuisine is discussed in great, mouth-watering detail, and getting something to eat may be the only reason you put this book down.

“This is exactly what I’ve been talking about,” Laure said. She started pointing. “Jambon persille—ham in aspic with tons of green parsley, crispy pork cracklings, pistachio and morel sausage; caillettes, or pork meatballs with spinach; pressed calf-muzzle salad; boudin blanc sausage with foi gras; slices of other local dry sausages; and red-wine-braised sabodet sausage.”

Food writer Laure Grenadier is on assignment for her magazine in Lyon, the city considered the capital of French gourmet food. She and her photographer are treated to the best meals and interview the most successful chefs. However, something else becomes a priority when the chefs they have interviewed turn up dead.

In addition to working as a sleuth and digging into the crimes, the writers provide amazing history of French cuisine and how the chefs prepare the food.

Paco Alvarez is Laure’s photographer, and the two of them work well together, whether on a story or solving a crime. The books also delve into the personal lives of the two, which makes their sleuthing more difficult yet more interesting.

When Laure begins uncovering secret rivals and tense disputes among the chefs, she fears the police theory of a serial killer may not be hitting the mark. As she was close friends with all the victims, she puts all her effort into discovering who murdered them while working on the article for her magazine. Whatever happens, deadlines must be met.

This is an entertaining novel, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I especially like it because I’m in the magazine business, but it’s also entertaining reading. It’s obvious Noël Balen and Vanessa Barrot know their French cuisine and how to mix up a good murder mystery that leaves you guessing the secret ingredient.