Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book review of Death at the Paris Exposition by Frances McNamara

French Village Diaries book review Death at the Paris Exposition Frances McNamara France Book Tours
Death at the Paris Exposition
by France McNamara

Death at the Paris Exposition

(historical mystery) Release date: September 1, 2016 at Allium Press of Chicago ISBN: 978-0-9967558-3-2 ebook: 978-0-9967558-4-9 276 pages Website Goodreads  


Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot's journey once again takes her to a world fair, the Paris Exposition of 1900. Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer is named the only female U. S. commissioner to the Exposition and enlists Emily's services as her secretary. Their visit to the House of Worth for the fitting of a couture gown is interrupted by the theft of Mrs. Palmer's famous pearl necklace. Before that crime can be solved, several young women meet untimely deaths and a member of the Palmer's inner circle is accused of the crimes. As Emily races to clear the family name she encounters jealous society ladies, American heiresses seeking titled European husbands, and more luscious gowns and priceless jewels. Along the way, she takes refuge from the tumult at the country estate of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. In between her work and sleuthing, she is able to share the Art Nouveau delights of the Exposition, and the enduring pleasures of the City of Light, with her husband and their children.


This is the sixth novel in the Emily Cabot series, but my first experience and I immediately felt at home with Emily. She is intelligent, organised, inquisitive and determined. It was very easy to slip into her narrative and I enjoyed experiencing Paris in 1900 with her.

Emily and her family are in Paris with the wealthy Palmer family as Emily is working as social secretary for Bertha Palmer, the only woman US commissioner at the Exposition. She becomes part of their social circle, experiencing the fashion houses of Paris and the engagements that must be organised and attended, however things don’t go as smoothly as expected when jewellery is stolen and bodies are discovered. Emily is loyal to her employer and determined to clear the Palmer name, despite the French police and some of their social circle who seem just as determined to prove the guilt. At some point during the book I suspected every character we met and couldn’t wait to find out exactly who was behind the thefts and murders and how they did it.

This book is fiction, but some of the characters we meet are real Americans who were in Paris for the Exposition of 1900. I do have a soft spot for books that blur fact with fiction and this one ticked lots of boxes. Paris is in party mode and the excitement of the exposition and socialising is described in detail, along with the customs, fashion and jewellery of the time. It is a well-researched book set in a fabulous era with a gripping mystery and I loved trying to piece together the facts to work out who was guilty.


French Village Diaries book review Death at the Paris Exposition Frances McNamara France Book Tours
Frances McNamara
Frances McNamara grew up in Boston, where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years. She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and recently retired from the University of Chicago. She now divides her time between Boston and Cape Cod. She is the author of five other titles in the Emily Cabot Mysteries series, which is set in the 1890s and takes place primarily in Chicago: Death at the Fair, Death at Hull House, Death at Pullman, Death at Woods Hole, and Death at Chinatown. Visit her website Follow her on Facebook Sign up to receive her newsletter Follow Allium Press of Chicago on Twitter | on Facebook Buy the book: on Amazon


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