Alice Eclair Spy Extraordinaire!: A Recipe for Trouble / Mouse Heart

These are two gripping adventures set in the past – thanks to Nosy Crow the publisher for sending them for review.

Alice Eclair Spy Extraordinaire!: A Recipe for Trouble
Sarah Todd Taylor

This adventure story is set in 1930s France and stars thirteen year old Alice Éclair who despite her young age, is a highly skilled cake maker and decorator at Paris’s famous pâtisserie, Vive Comme L’Éclair run by her widowed mother. During the day Alice creates scrumptious masterpieces, cakes and pastries for her mother’s fortunate customers. However this girl, aka Little Phantom, also has a burgeoning talent: for several months, she has been leading a double life training as a secret agent. Who the spymaster is, she doesn’t know, but she has her suspicions. 

Then comes the possibility of an exciting mission and Alice truly wants to undertake it for her country. A spy will be travelling on France’s most glamorous train, The Sapphire Express but she of course cannot be a passenger, instead she uses her powers of persuasion and her baking talent to obtain a job as pâtissière aboard the express, Monte Carlo bound. All she has to do now is satisfy the maître d’ and keep her eyes wide open so she can spot the spy L’Anguille without arousing any suspicions. No easy task, in fact it’s a series of challenges especially as the passengers all appear to have secrets; can she trust anybody at all?

The plot – in cake mix style – thickens as she narrowly escapes discovery, putting her very life in danger in a culinary, code-cracking extravaganza confected by Sarah Todd Taylor that makes truly enthralling reading. Grab yourself a chunk of cake, a mug of coffee (iced, if this weather continues) and be prepared for thrills and spills aplenty: satisfaction guaranteed, especially as its finale paves the way for further treats and a new mission for Alice.

Mouse Heart
Fleur Hitchcock

This thrilling tale is set in the reign of Queen Ann 11 and stars thirteen year old Mouse. Mouse by name but anything but by nature, this foundling lives contentedly with the Hawkins family in the Moth Theatre beside the river in Bristol, along with other actors – Walter, Ambrose and Valentina. The Hawkins have two children, Eve who continually makes trouble for Mouse and her kinder brother.

One day a blood-spattered Walter rushes into the theatre saying he’s seen a murdered woman; he tries unsuccessfully to hide himself but is then arrested for the murder and taken off to prison. Certain that her friend Walter is no killer, Mouse determines to find out who did murder Lady Grey. In the meantime she takes food to Walter every night, cooked by Kwadwo a runaway who is hiding in the theatre, mending and cooking for the residents.

However, as further killings take place, the stakes are raised as the plot twists and turns, with Mouse unsure who she can trust but having a strong feeling that Valentina who is behaving very strangely, is the likely murderer. If so, how can she unmask her? Her investigation leads her into some extremely dangerous situations, but it’s not only her own life that is threatened by this mysterious cold-blooded killer. Mouse must be cunning, swift and fearless if she’s to keep those she loves safe!

Another breathtaking thriller from Fleur Hitchcock: full of period atmosphere and theatrical detail, this gripping drama will certainly have readers on the edge of their seats until the curtain finally falls – or perhaps it doesn’t …