Gourmand Mysteries Set in France with Bonus Cookbooks

by Ann Claire

In bookshops and bakeries, I face a similar problem: how to choose among all the tempting offerings? I’m the person who invites you to go ahead of her in line. Actually, I insist. I have to study every cake and cover.  

The same happy dilemma applies to compiling book lists. When Kensington asked for a list of reading recommendations—summer cozy mysteries, perhaps, or books set in France—I was delighted. Then I spun my wheels. There are so many great choices. The list below provides a taste of France through mysteries that feature good food, as well as a dash of cookbooks, one of my favorite routes to armchair travel. I hope you’ll enjoy. Happy reading, bon voyage, and bon appétit!

Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge

In Mastering the Art of French Murder, the enviable Tabitha Knight lives next door to Julia Child. They’re best friends. Julia teaches Tabitha to cook. They investigate a mystery together! Pull up your chair for mouthwatering meals, delightful characters, and a trip to post-World War II Paris.

Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker

Travel to the picturesque Périgord through a medley of crime, cuisine, and culture in this long-running series. Author Martin Walker bases the fictional village and residents of St. Denis on his real-life home in southwest France. His protagonist, Benoît Courrèges—aka Bruno, Chief of Police—confronts serious crimes but also takes time to enjoy the good things in life: his friends, his dog, and fine food and wine. With 17 books and novellas sprinkled in between, St. Denis will feel like a home away from home.    


Bruno’s Cookbook: Recipes and Traditions from a French Country Kitchen by Martin Walker and Julia Watson

I currently have this cookbook out from my library, but I know I shouldn’t be greedy and borrow it on repeat. I’ll be springing for my own copy. From the beautiful photos to the tempting recipes and vignettes about village life and Bruno’s culinary adventures, it’s a gem for the coffee table and the kitchen. 

Sam Levitt series by Peter Mayle

Perhaps you’ve been swept away to sundrenched landscapes by Peter Mayle’s memoir, A Year in Provence. Have you sampled Mayle’s amateur investigator series? The Sam Levitt books star a former lawyer and wine connoisseur who is called upon to unravel twisty plots. Happily for Sam and readers, his investigations often take him to lovely locales and gourmet settings in southern France.

Dead and Ganache, A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery by Colette London

Here’s a fantasy job: chocolate whisperer! In book 4 of Colette London’s sweet mystery series, chocolate expert Hayden Mundy Moore travels to Brittany in western France to meet her chocolate mentor. Crimes ensue but with tasty breaks for buckwheat crepes, salted caramels, and of course chocolate. Other books in the series travel to San Francisco, Portland, London, and New England, all with delicious recipes.

Finally, no mystery here, but a bonus cookbook/encyclopedia:

Let’s Eat France by François-Régis Gaudry and Friends

This is more than a cookbook. As the wonderfully lengthy subtitle says, it’s “1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics, 260 personalities, plus hundreds of maps, charts, tricks, tips, and anecdotes and everything else you want to know about the food of France.” I’ll add that lifting this culinary compendium also counts as an arm-toning workout. It weighs in at just over 5.5 pounds!

Vicariously tour the sundrenched Mediterranean Coast in this perfectly escapist new cozy mystery series starring American expat-turned-bike tour company owner in Southern France.

Perfect for fans of Donna Leon’s The Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries, M.L. Longworth’s Provençal Mystery series, and armchair travel!

Nine months ago, Sadie Greene shocked friends and family by ditching her sensible office job in the Chicago suburbs and buying a sight-unseen French bicycling tour company, Oui Cycle. Now she’s living the unconventional life of her dreams in the gorgeous village of Sans-Souci-sur-Mer. Sans souci means carefree, but Sadie feels enough pressure to burst a tire when hometown friends arrive for a tour, including her former boss, Dom Appleton. Sadie is determined to show them the wonders of France and cycling—and to prove she made the right move. 

She hopes her meticulously planned nine-day itinerary will win them over, with its stunning seascapes, delicious wine tastings, hilltop villages, and, of course, frequent stops for croissants. When Dom drags his heels on fun, Sadie vows he’ll enjoy if it kills her. That is, until Dom ends up dead. The tragedy was no accident. Someone went out of their way to bring a permanent end to Dom’s vacation. 

As more crimes—and murder—roll in, suspicions hover over Oui Cycle. To save her dream business, help her friends, and bring justice, Sadie launches her own investigation. However, mysteries mount with every turn. On an uphill battle for clues, can Sadie come to terms with her painful past while spinning closer to the truth—or will a twisted killer put the brakes on her for good?