Discover Crime Café

I had the great privilege of spending time with Debbi Mack on her podcast Crime Café. Debbie is a New York Times bestselling author—I recommend you check out her books.

The Crime Café podcast is in its 3rd season. The Crime Café it is a fun source for great mystery, suspense, noir, and thriller reading. Listen to podcasts featuring interviews with top crime fiction authors, as well as true crime writers. Guests include, not only book authors, but screenwriters and storytellers in other media – from films to television to the Web – and beyond... including one translator/publisher. :-)

What's next?

 French wine mystery novel set in Vouvray

Oh... I just can't wait. A new translation just came in... it's another Winemaker Detective novel by Jean-Pierre and Noël, set in Vouvray! This means we are heading back to the Loire Valley, not so very far from Tours, where chinon blanc is a dominant grape variety. I look forward to seeing what Sally and Amy have done with the translation and getting to work on this new adventure.

I'll say no more, except that it starts off with a proverb...

It is well to remember
that there are five reasons for drinking:
the arrival of a friend,
one’s present or future thirst,
the excellence of the wine,
or any other reason.   
—Latin Proverb

Combining Fact and Fiction

Vanessa Barrot et Noel Balen nb-def-lulu-images.jpg

Vanessa Barrot and Noël Balen, authors of the Gourmet Crime series, shared some dos and don'ts for combining fact and fiction on Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare blog. 

Minced, Marinated, and Murdered, the first book in the series, is set in Lyon, France’s traditional capital of gourmet food. The novel delves deep into the juicy real details of France’s culinary history, mixing local reality and historical fact with fiction and mystery. Filled with real restaurants and people, but also an entirely fictional murder mystery, the authors know something about juggling what's real and what isn't.

They begin with "DO take inspiration from real life"...

 Click here to read the full blog post

Bonjour Paris! Interview

I just did an exclusive interview with Janet Hulstrand for Bonjour Paris about Le French Book and mysteries and thrillers. Check it out and you'll find the answers to her great questions and learn:

  • What I love most about living in France.
  • What inspired me to start Le French Book.
  • What I consider to be the main differences between mysteries, cozy mysteries, and thrillers.
  • Some comments on the challenges of translation and what values drive our publishing house.

Quenching your thirst and satisfying your palate in Lyon

I recently found a really fun blog for wine lovers: Social Vignerons. Its goal is "to showcase all the talent found in the many facets of the world of wine: its people, its places, the amazing knowledge that relates to it, the enjoyable moments with friends matching with food or traveling, the processes and products, accessories, and everything else around it…"

Not only do they have tons of great content, they also just ran a guest post by Noël Balen and Vanessa Barrot, about wines to enjoy in Lyon. I put an excerpt below.


"The richness and diversity of Lyonnais cuisine is best enjoyed when accompanied with the right wine.

When in Lyon, you can pick up any menu and you’ll find a whole gamut of wines, but the vineyards printed on the bottle can be far from local. From Bordeaux to Languedoc-Roussillon and beyond, French chefs are always on the lookout for new discoveries and surprises. However, chefs in Lyon don’t have to look far. Excellent local wines from places like Burgundy and Beaujolais are right next door..."

Read the post.


New culinary mystery series — Q&A with the authors

 French writers Noël Balen and Vanessa Barrot

French writers Noël Balen and Vanessa Barrot

The Frenchman Noël Balen, author of the made-for-TV Winemaker Detective series, wanted to expand from the wine cellar to the kitchen. To do so, he teamed up with Vanessa Barrot, a lawyer, writer, and inveterate food lover. Together, they cooked up the new culinary mystery series Gourmet Crimes, starting with Minced, Marinated, and Murdered, which will be available in English on February 20. Below we asked them a few questions.

Can you explain how you chose your main characters?
We wanted a female sleuth as the main character because the first memories we all generally have about food are linked to our mother’s cooking. Laure Grenadier is a fortysomething, dynamic, urban woman with high standards in her personal and professional life. Her sidekick, Paco, provides another perspective on French cooking and, of course, adds to the suspense and depth of the story.

Many of the restaurants you mention really exist. How do you choose the ones you include?
We test them. We spend a lot of time with the chefs, talking about how they see their job and about their cooking philosophy. We are struck by the humanity and humility of the chefs we speak to, and their awareness of being part of a lineage, a link in a global chain, along with those who produce the food. We also hear about the darker sides, the sterile rivalries, the toughness of the job and the cruelty you sometimes find behind the scenes.

How do you co-write these books?
We write about half the chapters each. We first come up with a plot line, and then based on our affinities with the story, we each write the chapters we want to write. We write alone, but discuss all the key decisions… in the kitchen. And that’s the only place we manage to do it.

What defines a good restaurant?
A good restaurant is not about price, but about wanting to share cuisine. It’s a place where you feel welcomed as a person and not just a customer. It offers an encounter. Based on these encounters, our books evolve. “These are thoughtful books… through gastronomy, you can tell so much truth about a city or a culture.”

Grab launch bonuses


Pre-orders are now open for Minced, Marinated, and Murdered, a deliciously authentic culinary mystery novel is the first of a new series set in France offering a well-balanced blend of gastronomy and suspense with mouth-watering excursions into the regions of France.

Author Noël Balen, who also pens the made-for-TV Winemaker Detective Series, has teamed up with Vanessa Barrot and created a new female sleuth for this series, which combines local reality and fiction, historical fact and culinary anecdotes, recipes and local products, providing armchair travel, culinary delight, and mystery. 

In the run up to the launch of our brand new culinary mystery series, we've put together some fun bonuses. Order it now and you'll get:

  • A collection of authentic Lyon recipes from the authors' kitchen.
  • A food lover's guide to Lyon.

These gifts will disappear forever on February 20, so get them now!


"Perfectly simmered"

We are just putting the final touches on the first in a new culinary mystery series with mouth-watering excursions into the regions of France: Gourmet Crimes. Minced, Marinated, and Murdered is a deliciously authentic mystery novel offering a well-balanced blend of gastronomy and suspense. Author Noël Balen, who also pens the made-for-TV Winemaker Detective Series, has teamed up with Vanessa Barrot and created a new female sleuth for this series, which combines local reality and fiction, historical fact and culinary anecdotes, recipes and regional products, providing armchair travel, culinary delight, and mystery.


Requiem in Yquem out today

A New Winemaker Detective Mystery

The intricate taste of greed and remorse

In the mist-covered hills of Sauternes, where the wine is luscious and the landscape beguiling, the brutal murder of an elderly couple intrigues the wine expert Benjamin Cooker and awakens memories for his dashing assistant Virgile Lanssien. Drawn into the investigation, the two journey through the storied Sauternes countryside, where the Château d’Yquem has reigned for centuries. Will the murder go unexplained and the killer remain free? The Winemaker Detective’s discernment and incessant curiosity push investigators to look deeper, while Virgile rekindles memories of his days at school and questions the meaning of his life. 

Praise for the series

“Magnificent series. Beautifully written. Fascinating characters. Intriguing story lines. Most entertaining reading I've done in many years. And, a bit educational as well.  Reminded me of the Colin Dexter books and TV series about CDI Endeavor Morse.”

“If you love to read cozies, enjoy learning about different locales and wines and intriguing sleuths then you need to check out this mystery series.”

"The series will have wide appeal within the British and American mystery-reading market, and particularly for those who enjoy a bit of armchair travel and descriptions of great French food and wine."