A Monsieur Pamplemousse Mystery
Allison & Busby - 2000
ISBN: 0749004630 - Paperback
Cozy  / Italian Mystery

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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A genuinely funny book is probably the hardest type to write well and Michael Bond is better at accomplishing this feat than most.  Although his Pamplemousse series is for adults there is a lingering flavor of his earlier Paddington books with their slapstick mayhem and understated humor.  In this latest outing for the culinary sleuth Pamplemousse is in disgrace after refusing to jump into Boulogne harbor on his survival course and going over the wall in a bid for freedom only to end up landing on the patrolling Mother Superior in the convent next door.  His boss duly packs him off to the Auvergne so he can lie low for a while and make his report on top chef Andre Dulac who is about to be presented with an award by Le Guide.  He also has to undergo some cloak-and-dagger business and deliver secretly a bright yellow and brand new car, sneak faithful Pommes Frites in to a hotel where chiens are interdit and then there is the body to deal with…

Bond keeps the humor, which is replete with suggestive images despite the fact that nothing as obvious as sex ever happens, bubbling merrily like a stockpot on the boil.  Like Paddington Pamplemousse never intends to be at the center of some disaster but he always manages to be and his inventive ways of trying to get out of trouble are reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau.  Bond is also adept at describing the grim, icy landscape of the Auvergne in winter and the insular behaviour of the local people in a small isolated community where old sins have long shadows and the war doesn’t seem very far in the past.  The vivid descriptions of the food and its preparation are almost tangible and all this ensures that the Pamplemousse novels never seem to be in a class with too many other humorous books, that of all jokes and no plot.  Even if the humor escapes the reader the descriptions remain in the mind.  I don’t know what the duties of a culinary guide inspector entail but whenever I read these books I hope that they are something like those of Monsieur Pamplemousse. 

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