Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: Death at the Paris Exposition by Frances McNamara

Book Synopsis
Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot’s journey once again takes her to a world’s 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.

My Review
I have always been fascinated by World's Fairs and Expositions, so I was particularly interested in reading Death at the Paris Exposition. 

Emily Cabot is a university lecturer from Chicago who also solves crimes.  She travels to the Paris Exposition of 1900 with socialite Bertha Palmer.  She takes her husband and three young children along, and while in Paris, she works as Mrs. Palmer's secretary.  A couple of valuable jewels go missing, and then a body is discovered in a wax figure tableau.  That is when the mystery really deepens, and the search for the killer - and jewel thief - is on.  

The historical details in this book are absolutely fascinating.  Readers will visit the Paris Exposition, meet artist Mary Cassatt, encounter Art Nouveau, couturiere gowns by M. Worth, and learn about life in Paris, 1900.  I loved many of the small details in this book, like Emily's visit to a marionette show with her children, and les bouquinistes, book stalls by the Seine.

The mystery is well paced and complex, and it kept me guessing.  I really liked the character descriptions as well, and particularly liked Emily as protagonist.     

Death at the Paris Exposition is part of a series, the Emily Cabot mysteries.  It is the first novel I've read in the series.  It worked fine as a standalone, but now I really want to read the rest of the books as well!

I recommend Death at the Paris Exposition enthusiastically to fans of historical fiction, World's Fairs, French culture, or just readers who enjoy a particularly well written mystery. 

Author Bio
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.

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I received a copy of this book from France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.