Reviews /

Alice Éclair, Spy Extraordinaire – A Recipe For Trouble

Authored by Sarah Todd Taylor
Illustrated by Beatriz Castro
Published by Nosy Crow

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Set in Paris in the days leading up to World War Two, this is the second book featuring Alice Éclair, thirteen-year-old baker and pâtissier, as well as code breaker and spy. I was worried when sent this book to review, as I hadn’t read the first in this series, but I needn’t have been, as all is explained perfectly and this story could stand alone. (Although I do now want to read the first book as I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure!)

Alice has been receiving coded messages and puzzles to solve for the past year. She has no idea who has been sending them, and she has kept them secret from her mother, the master baker of the family. Madame Éclair is much more interested in reading the latest Agatha Christie novel than checking up on her daughter, which means that Alice has the opportunity to sneak out of their apartment and solve mysteries.

Her Uncle had given Alice the nickname ‘Little Phantom‘ and had taught her how to solve cryptic crosswords and ciphers as well as how to track spies. All the weird gifts and messages Alice has been left lead up to the big case that Alice is given. She has a secret meeting and has her theories as to who wants to meet her. Her mission is to uncover a spy who seeks to ruin France. Alice gets a job as a pastry chef on board the luxurious Sapphire Express train travelling to the South of France.

Whilst onboard there are many interesting passengers to observe and follow. Alice engineers lots of opportunities to spy on and search the rooms of passengers whom she suspects. With the help of her new friend, a passenger called Penelope, Alice uncovers the spy – or does she?

This book was a delight to read! There are lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing and some genuine thrills that had me gasping. It reminded me of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and I enjoyed being onboard the train with Alice. Sarah Todd Taylor writes such beautiful passages of Alice baking and decorating; I could see her creations in my head and almost taste them! This book would be fabulous for future spies, bakers or just those who love a good whodunnit, aged 8 and upwards.