Review: The Grave Gourmet (Capucine Culinary Mysteries #1) ~ Alexander Campion

grave gourmetA savory blend of murder and fine French cuisine set against the dazzling beauty of Paris, Campion’s debut–the first in a mouthwatering new series–is an intriguing mystery with a culinary twist.

2 Thumbs-UpFirst, let me add here that although there are no recipes included in the book itself they can be found on the Author’s website under recipes.

Now, onto the book itself.  If you are looking for serious crime novel set in Paris, this may not be the one for you.  Although it is a crime novel, and it is set in Paris it is more a light-hearted look at the Police Judicaire, and the homicide division.

The main protagonist is a very chic, very French woman, married to a food critic.  She is moneyed, over-privileged, beautiful and a little bit lost in the soup when it comes to investigating murder.  For any reader that has spent more than a 2 week vacation in Paris, they will recognize her as one of the women that walks the Champs-Élysées; well dressed, elegant and knowing eyes will be upon her as she walks by.  For some readers this may be off-putting, but in this character her self-assurance and feeling of privilege are what add humour to this story.  Having spent some time in Paris, I found her attitude and bearing to be more stereotypical than an accurate description of Parisian women, but it wasn’t this that made me feel no connection with her, it was more her constant preening and admiration of herself that kept me from fully liking her.  Her Husband, I felt, read almost as if he had been written by a different hand; he was personable, funny and spent a great deal of time in the kitchen.  He had a total understanding of the way his wife thought and reacted to certain situations, and was always on hand to return her to their version of the real world.

From the descriptions of the locales in and around Paris, it is apparent that the Author has spent a great deal of time living there, and partaking of all that French cuisine and vineyards have to offer as the book is filled with plenty of intriguing information about this aspect of French life.  Unfortunately all the great locales and haute cuisine covered in the book does not make this any more than a mediocre police procedural, even though it is woven skilfully into a basic plot.

I didn’t dislike this novel, but then again I didn’t love it; it was fun and just OK and, based on this I find it highly unlikely that I would read anymore books by this Author.  I would recommend it to anyone that is looking for a light read with a twist.