Excerpt from Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Murder in Montparnasse

A Phryne Fisher Mystery

By Kerry Greenwood

Murder in Montparnasse
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2004,
    276 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2006,
    266 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The drink came in a moment and Phryne sat sipping and considering Café Anatole. It was as though some gourmet whirlwind had picked up a Parisian bistro and, tired by the journey to the Antipodes, dropped it carelessly in St. Kilda, just before it ran out of land. There was the zinc counter with a saucy girl leaning on it. There was the row of stools for the passing trade. There was the mirror and in front of it an array of bottles, from Chartreuse to Armagnac. There were the little tables, each covered with a white cloth and over it white butcher's paper. There were the wrought iron chairs. There was the group of artists drawing on the paper and arguing about Modernism. There was a group of respectable bourgeois, a little affronted by the brouhaha, settling back to their lunch; a meal, it is well known, which must be eaten with a knife and fork. Everyone in the café was speaking French. She might be back in Montparnasse at Au Chien Qui Fume, talking to the trousered girls from the Latin Quarter, drinking pastis and smoking Gauloises.

She sniffed. Someone was smoking Gauloises. And someone else was shortly about to provide her with soupe à l'oignon, or something else concocted by a master chef. Bliss. Phryne settled down to enjoy herself.

She wasn't even beginning to be bored when the waiter brought her quenelles of pheasant in a delicate broth and poured her a glass of fragrant white wine.

'Is the chef not dining with me?' she asked in surprise.

'Desolated, mam'selle,' said the waiter. 'An emergency in the kitchen. He will join you for coffee.'

Phryne shrugged. The quenelles, little spoon shaped rissoles poached in broth, were superb. Presently, the waiter brought her poulet royale with French beans and poured her a glass of white wine. She ate slowly. Each mouthful burst upon the taste-buds with fresh savour—tarragon, perhaps, or was it parsley?

She heard a shout of despair from the kitchen, and a cry of 'Plus de crème!' Sauce must have curdled, she thought. The remedy for anything short of an outbreak of cholera in a French kitchen was 'Add more cream!'

Finally the waiter brought Phryne a tiny vanilla soufflé, a glass of cognac, a cup of coffee and M'sieur Anatole.

He was of the thin, stringy and miserable class of chef, weighing in at perhaps ten stone in a wet army greatcoat. His hair, far too glossy and black to be natural, was slicked back from a forehead wrinkled with years of concocting sauces béchamel, royale, crème and suprême. His eyes, of a pale grey, had been blasted by the heat from too many ovens and his hands had constructed far too many roux, garnitures and hors d'oeuvres.

Phryne rather preferred the fat, red-cheeked and jolly form of chef, but her excellent lunch had given her an attack of goodwill to all men, even one who resembled a shabby vulture who had just missed out on the last beakful of dead wildebeest. She held out her hand and M'sieur Anatole kissed it.

'Thank you for my delightful lunch,' she said. 'The quenelles were superb. The poulet royale could have been served to royalty, and your soufflé melted in the mouth.'

Phryne believed in the specific compliment. The vulture face softened.

'It is my pleasure,' he said, 'to please such a beautiful lady. Jean-Paul,' he ordered, 'another cognac.'

The waiter, who had clearly graduated magna cum laude from Cheeky French Waiter School, made a face which suggested that a chef who had dinners to cook ought not to be glugging down cognac at lunch, but he slapped down another glass and the bottle of cognac. He then flounced away, turning an ostentatious back.

'He is my sister's son,' said M'sieur Anatole. Phryne nodded. French cafés were usually family affairs. She wondered what had brought such an obvious Parisian so far from the centre of all civilisation and culture—Paris—and decided not to ask. Besides, she had still to ascertain why she had been invited to lunch.

Excerpted from Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood, pages 1-12. Copyright© 2002 by Kerry Greenwood. Excerpted by permission of the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.