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

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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!

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"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.

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New Release in Time for Summer Reading Season

What is on your summer reading list this year? We just added some potential mayhem and intrigue to it, with Mayhem in Margaux, a new adventure in the Winemaker Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen.

Reviewers concur that this is “a perfect beach book or why not in the evening on the terrace with a glass of wine.” The Winemaker Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen is a "lifestyle" mystery series made of classic wines, old winemaking families and their estates, genteel epicurean drinking and dining, fine cigars and, in this book a luxury vacation destination. Once again, this amateur detective/cozy mystery, translated by Boulder-based translator Sally Pane, whisks readers away to France for a gentle mystery, and a lot of atmosphere.

Want to catch up on the series? There's enough here to while away a few summer reading sessions, and to down a few bottles of wine - all with moderation of course.
Treachery in Bordeaux 
Grand Cru Heist 
Nightmare in Burgundy
Deadly Tasting
Cognac Conspiracies 

Summer in Bordeaux