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Monday, January 15, 2007

French Fried

***½ French Fried by Nancy Fairbanks. Mystery.

This is, if I'm not mistaken, the 9th mystery featuring culinary writer Carolyn Blue. I've read 4 others: here (#33) and here (#5, 7, & 9). In case you don't feel like clicking the links, I'll recap my objections to the series as a whole: 1) I really don't like mysteries with gimmicks. These seem like the story is secondary to the recipes. 2) More than one first-person voice (in this case, three of them), and they all sound identical.

This time, Carolyn and her husband Jason are in France so he can attend a chemistry conference. When they arrive, Jason heads off to the university while Carolyn checks into their room, only to find a man dying on their bed after eating a gift of pate that had been left for them.

A series of near-misses occur, and it becomes obvious to Carolyn, at least, that someone is trying to kill her or Jason or both of them. The mystery worked fairly well, with enough clues so that the solution didn't come out of left field, but not so many that it was obvious from the beginning.

However, the Blues, Carolyn in particular, got on my last nerve. Part of that might be attributed to the inaccuracy of French details. At one point, for example, Carolyn exchanges dollars for French franc at the hotel. This book was released in 2006. They'd been using the Euro in France since 2000. And Carolyn cannot figure out the traffic lights, so she jaywalks. Traffic lights are pretty well universal. The pedestrian light looks exactly the same in Europe as it does in the U.S. It made Carolyn look like a moron. Mostly, though, she's a caricature of the obnoxious American tourist, complaining about everything that's not identical to her hometown--something that I admit is one of my personal hot buttons.


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Thanks for the review...I'd been wondering about this series. Now, not so much.
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