The Grave Gourmet
Kensington, Jul 1 2010, $22.00
Chef Jean-Basile Labrousse owns the three-star Diapason restaurant. When he kicks a bag of squash in his freezer, it feels more like meat to him. He opens the bag to find the body of Jean-Louis Delage, the president-directeur general of Renault; who dined there earlier in the evening with his attorney.
With everyone else tied up, Le Commissaire Talon assigns twenty-eight years old Parisian Police Detective Capucine Le Tellier for the lead on the case; her first field crime scene assignment as her work has been office reviews of white collar crime. She receives insider help on the restaurant side of her investigation from her dining critic husband, Alexandre. At Renault, she learns the firm is working on a fuel efficiency process that would allow vehicles to run on one third the amount of gas; and that several countries and rival companies have industrial spies trying to steal the secret. Capucine knows if she wants more homicide work, she must resolve the case with its international implications as well as the country’s frenzy over an icon being murdered.
With a lighthearted look at the City of Lights through the eyes of delightful droll Parisians and foreign nationals, readers will enjoy dining in Paris with Capucine (who is not remotely close in performance to The Pink Panther of Inspector Clouseau) as their tour guide. The Grave Gourmet is a wonderful French police procedural that highlights the industrial espionage threat to nations and companies as even allies spy on one another. Alexander Campion provides a mesmeric opening act starring a magnifico female protagonist.