Night Train to Paris by Fliss Chester
Meet Fen Churche, as she steps off the night train with the sun rising over Paris. Cat whisperer, crossword puzzler... accidental detective?
Autumn, 1945. Fen cannot wait to see her beloved godmother Rose, who has invited Fen to stay with her in the city of lights. As she arrives, Fen is dreaming of strolls by the Seine, taking tea at the Eiffel Tower and above all French feasts with Rose where they can trade stories of how they survived the terrifying war years.
But Fen has barely made friends with Rose’s bad-tempered poodle when she returns to the apartment to find her godmother murdered, a paintbrush stuck in her neck. Suddenly Fen is thrown into the middle of a truly puzzling mystery. Who on earth would want to murder Rose, a gentle artist and generous friend?
A blackmail letter convinces Fen that the police have got everything wrong and Fen knows she has to solve the case just like one of her crosswords, one clue at a time. As she meets her godmother’s friends, she makes a surprising discovery: Rose was part of the Resistance during the war…
When a second body turns up, another of Rose’s wartime contacts, Fen must act fast. But as the killer turns their sights on Fen, does she have what it takes to solve this mysterious murder and get justice for her darling godmother?
You won’t be able to put down this utterly addictive historical cozy mystery! The absolutely perfect treat if you love Agatha Christie, Rhys Bowen and Jacqueline Winspear.
Fen is independent, sensible and with her love of cryptic crosswords, enjoys working out clues that others may miss. Arriving on the night train from Burgundy, fresh from solving a murder there, she is looking forward to spending some time in Paris and rediscovering the people and places she knew when she grew up there before the war.
Paris is slowly waking up now the Occupation is over, but things have changed, people are missing, shops and galleries boarded up and artwork has been stolen by the Germans. Her eccentric godmother Rose is a colourful character in more ways than one, with her vivid turbans, patchwork coats and art studio full of canvasses and paints. As she begins to let Fen and her travelling companion James know about her work during the war, and how she plans to return the stolen art to its rightful owners, Rose is murdered.
Fen can’t accept the police view of burglary gone wrong, so begins looking for clues. As she tries to piece together what went on during the war, who else was involved, and why Rose was murdered, we get drawn into the Paris fashion and art world of the 1940s. Fen may know Paris and the Parisian ways, but when things don’t quite go to plan, she also knows only a fresh pot of tea will do.
This book has a great cast of characters, all of whom raised my suspicions at times, and as the clues were dropped in, I really enjoyed trying to work things out with Fen and discover who the murderer was and why.
Although I hadn’t read A Dangerous Goodbye, the first book in the Fen Churche series, I wish I had, so it’s now on my kindle, ready to go and I can’t wait to read more. If you enjoy cosy mysteries, a bit of Parisian chic and some good old British humour, I’m sure you’ll love this book.
Fliss Chester lives in Surrey with her husband and writes historical cozy crime. When she is not killing people off in her 1940s whodunnits, she helps her husband, who is a wine merchant, run their business. Never far from a decent glass of something, Fliss also loves cooking (and writing up her favourite recipes on her blog), enjoying the beautiful Surrey and West Sussex countryside and having a good natter.
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