Delectable pastries and high-stakes espionage are the perfect ingredients for a recipe for success in Sarah Todd Taylor’s newest series that introduces readers to the thrilling life of Alice Éclair, a spy extraordinaire.
Expert baker Alice Éclair is a whizz at whipping up the most delectable cakes and pastries at famous Parisian pâtisserie Vive Comme L’Éclair. But once the macarons and mille-feuille have been baked and another day in the kitchen comes to an end, Alice embraces her secret life as a spy. Racing around the streets of Paris following secret notes and ciphers from a mystery sender, Alice has been harnessing her spying skills. Now she is ready for her most important mission yet, track down a rogue agent aboard the opulent Sapphire Express. But will Alice be able to complete her mission or will secret papers fall into the wrong hands and put lives at great risk…
This is a step up from Todd Taylor’s other well-known super sleuth, Max the Detective Cat. Alice Éclair serves up more peril, more twists, more thrills, and it is spy-tacular. Set in France, just before the beginning of the Second World War - lots of period details and some historical context are neatly woven into the story - readers are thrust head-first into a fast-paced and intriguing mystery that seamlessly mixes baking and spying.
Stirred, whisked and baked to perfection, this is the kind of book I love to read; a journey on a train of grandeur, a scrumptious mystery, double crossings, a wonderful cast of characters - all of whom are potentially up to no good - and enough red-herrings to keep me guessing, I was gobbling up the pages as quickly as I would snaffle one of Alice’s mille-feuilles.
Brave, bold, resourceful and with a toolkit of spy skills hidden up the sleeves of her chef’s whites, Alice is one of my favourite detectives yet. She delicately creates cocktail biscuits one minute and is then spying on passengers and sneaking into locked rooms the next. Keeping her real reason for being aboard the train a secret, Alice ‘kneads’ all of her wits and spy craft if she is to accomplish her first mission.
Between having my taste-buds tantalised by an assortment of mouth-watering cakes, it is an immense amount of fun trying to piece together the clues alongside Alice. Like a good soufflé, the story rises to perfection and leaves the reader wanting more. And we won’t have to wait long with book two hitting the shelves in January 2023 (and I may have just been given an early look at it thanks to NetGalley and the lovely peeps at Nosy Crow).
With huge thanks to Allen & Unwin and Nosy Crow for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 7+.