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Authors: Harper Lin

2 Éclair Murder

BOOK: 2 Éclair Murder
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

Recipe 1: Chocolate Éclairs

Recipe 2: Pistachio Éclairs

Recipe 3: Salted Caramel Éclairs

Recipe 4: Hazelnut Mocha Éclairs

Recipe 5: Savory Éclairs with Salmon, Cream Cheese and Fresh Herbs

Other Savory Recipes to Try

About the Author

Éclair Murder

A Patisserie Mystery

by Harper Lin

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Some street names and locations in Paris are real and others are fictitious.

Text copyright © 2014 Harper Lin. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the author.

CHAPTER 1

A month after returning to her hometown from her travels, Clémence Damour was back into the swing of Parisian life without the tedious routine that came with living in the city. She knew she was lucky to avoid the
Métro, boulot, dodo
, the subway-work-sleep routine that was the unfortunate fate of other Parisians. Working eleven-hour days had never been her goal. What she did for a living she didn’t even consider work but play.
 

Her family’s patisserie chain,
Damour
, made some of France’s most delicious desserts and pastries. Aside from the flagship store in the 16th arrondissement, there were two other locations in Paris that Clémence checked up on from time to time. Her parents were away in Asia for at least six months and not only was she house-sitting and dog-sitting for them, she got to take over in inventing new dessert flavors with the patisserie’s head baker, Sebastien Soulier.
 

But by Thursday afternoon, she was feeling the fatigue. Because work was so much fun, she’d been spending six days a week in the kitchen without even noticing it. She and Sebastien were experimenting with savory éclairs for the
salon de thé
lunch menu. Some of the results had been downright awful. She decided to leave work early and walk her dog Miffy at the park to relax and spend some time under the sun.
 

It was spring in Paris. The trees on the streets and boulevards were in bloom. As she walked down the steps of the Palais de Chaillot, she passed by the lovely flowers in the gardens and the fresh green foliage of the trees and the dewy grass. The grand fountain was turned on and kids squealed as they splashed their hands in the water. A few skateboarders did flips and tricks while the tourists on the viewing platform above took pictures of La Tour Eiffel in awe.
 

She was heading across The Seine to the Champs de Mars, the park beneath the tower. She passed the thick aroma of crêpe and waffle stands, where Miffy was compelled to linger. The sun was still three hours away from setting, so they had plenty of time to enjoy the blue clouds and the light of day. One never knew when the sun was going to come out in Paris, and when it did, everybody was out to take advantage of it.

Clémence walked around, looking for other dogs so that Miffy could socialize. She spotted a fluffy Pomeranian dog on the other side of the field and wondered if the lady holding the leash would mind if Miffy interacted with the dog a bit. She made her way towards them, passing teenagers taking selfies, and vendors selling illegal keychains and trinkets in the shape of the original tower.

As they walked, they were accosted by a Jack Russell terrier with a red bandana tied around the neck.
 

Arthur Dubois, her neighbour, greeted her with a strained smile. He was as handsome as always, dressed in a white dress shirt and crisp blue jeans. His chestnut brown hair was neatly combed, and his brown eyes seemed to examine her with curiosity.
 

“Bonjour Arthur,” Clémence said with a polite smile. She still wasn’t sure whether their greeting required
bisous
, kisses on the cheeks, since they were not particularly close.
 

“Bonjour,” he replied stiffly.

They had been on the verge of some sort of friendship when Arthur had found her unconscious on the street last month and called for an ambulance when she had been investigating who had killed
la gardienne
, the caretaker of their building. Once in a while she was able to discern a soft side from his snotty facade, but it was as rare to encounter as a French person who didn’t like cheese.
 

The Russell Terrier and Miffy were wagging their tails happily and jumping up and down. The dogs were pals, since Arthur’s family had dog-sat Miffy before, and Clémence would’ve suggested walking the dogs together more often if Arthur wasn’t so downright rude sometimes.
 

After Clémence helped Inspector Cyril St. Clair find the killer, she had received a big bouquet of beautiful pink and red roses that had been left in front of her apartment door. No note had came with it to say who the bouquet was from, but she suspected that it had been from Arthur. The last time she’d run into Arthur, she’d asked whether the roses were from him, but he had vehemently denied it.
 

“Why would I give you flowers?” he had asked, a bit nastily.
 

Clémence had immediately felt stupid for asking. He probably thought she was insinuating that he had romantic interest in her. His family had been victims of the whole debacle, and Clémence had uncovered the truth. Plus she had been beaten and almost killed in the process. Didn’t that warrant flowers?
 

“Nobody in your family sent it either?” Clémence
 
had asked.

“Not as far as I know,” he had replied.

If the Dubois family didn’t send it, then who did? In any case, she didn’t appreciate Arthur’s attitude and the whole exchange had made her apprehensive about him again.
 

But here he was with his dog. And he was walking next to her.

“Hey, what is your dog’s name?” she asked.

“You mean after all these years, you never knew his name?” Arthur said.

Clémence fumed. She was trying to be polite, but he was making it difficult, as usual.

“I was away for two years,” she said. “And this is maybe one of the few times I have seen your dog.”
 

“It’s Youki,” he replied.
 

“Oh.”
 

Clémence
 
wanted their walk to be over, but Miffy was really enjoying herself with Youki. She did come to the park to socialize Miffy after all.
 

“How’s the PhD going?” she asked to dispel the uncomfortable silence between them.

“Well,” he said.
 

“What’s it about anyway?”
 

“Macroeconomics,” he said. “But nothing you would understand because it’s quite complicated.”
 

Clémence silently called him a few names. Did he realize how rude he was being or was it just part of his personality?

She decided not to react, but she wouldn’t make the effort to make any more conversation. As soon as Miffy received sufficient time with Youki, she would make her excuses and walk the other way.
 

After another bout of awkward silence, Arthur finally spoke up.
 

“Any new macaron flavors at
Damour
?”
 

“Yes,” Clémence said. “We’ve just launched a cherry blossom flavor, and—”

She was interrupted by Youki running off in the park toward two guys who were throwing a frisbee around. Arthur must’ve had a loose grasp of the leash and he chased after Youki.

Miffy wanted to go after them too. She barked excitedly, but Clémence held the leash tight.

“Stay here, Miffy. I guess we’ll wait for them.”
 

After all, she couldn’t just go home now. It was amusing to watch Arthur chasing after Youki and totally losing his cool.
 

Clémence laughed as she watched them, not noticing that Miffy was sniffing around behind her. When she looked down at Miffy a couple of minutes later, she realized that Miffy had stretched the extended leash all the way to a bush.
 

“Miffy?”
 

Her dog was sniffing an éclair on the ground near the bush. Sticking out of the bush were shoes. Men’s shiny brown shoes.

“What the…?”

Clémence pulled Miffy back and looked into the bush. The pants seemed to be made from expensive fabric, and the shoes were high-end as well; it couldn’t have been a homeless man.
 

“Monsieur?” she called. “Are you okay?”
 

The man didn’t answer.
 

Miffy was still sniffing the piece of éclair on the ground, but she wasn’t licking it.

“Okay, Miffy, stop.”
 

Clémence
 
looked back at Arthur, who was walking toward them with Youki.
 

“I think this man needs help!” Clémence said to Arthur.

Arthur ran to them and he parted the bush. The man lying in it was in his mid to late forties with dark brown hair and tortoiseshell spectacles. He wore a business suit and tie, like a typical Parisian man working in the area.

Arthur checked for a pulse. It was the second time of the day that he lost his cool. He grimaced and stepped back.

“I think he’s dead,” Arthur said weakly.
 

CHAPTER 2

“Dead?” Clémence croaked.
 

Arthur nodded, looking at his own finger, which had just touched a dead man.

Clémence wasted no time in pulling out her phone and calling the police.
 

“How could this happen?” she wondered out loud. “There’s no blood or anything. And in broad daylight?”
 

“I don’t know, but let’s step away.”
 

They pulled their dogs to a nearby bench. Arthur sat, but Clémence couldn’t help but remain standing. She strained her neck to look at the body.

“Come on,” said Arthur. “You’re drawing attention to it.”
 

Clémence didn’t listen. She pushed Miffy’s leash into Arthur’s hands and left before he could object. She found the courage to go back to the corpse in the bush.

Was the man really dead? And the éclair he’d been eating—it looked awfully like the one from her store. It was pistachio flavored and Clémence recognized the exact shade of the green cream filling oozing out from the choux pastry.
 

She held her breath and parted the bush.
 

“What are you doing?” Arthur said, coming up behind her with the dogs. “You don’t want to get involved in another murder, do you?”
 

Clémence noticed a lavender paper bag in the bush, close to the body. Just as she suspected. Lavender was
Damour’
s brand color, and sure enough, the bag was imprinted with the store’s gold logo.

“This man has been eating a pistachio éclair from my shop before he died,” she said.
 

“Shh,” Arthur said. “Not so loud. There are children here.”
 

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “This makes no sense. It must be a medical condition.” Then she began to panic a little. “Oh God, what if he had been allergic to something in the éclair? We use fresh ingredients. But what if it’s our fault?”
 

“Calm down,” said Arthur, even though he was worked up himself. “Will you just come back to the bench? Oh look, the police are here.”
 

A police car pulled up, followed by the emergency response workers in a
pompier
truck.
 

Clémence told them what they had discovered, and the police quickly sectioned off their part of the park with police tape, telling picnickers to pack up and move.
 

Soon another car pulled up, a black smart car. Clémence was amused to see the lanky Inspector Cyril St. Clair getting out of the tiny car. Cyril was tall and green bean-thin, with gaunt cheeks, a hawk nose and sharp green eyes. He reminded her of a vulture.
 

“You again,” he called. “Where there’s murder, there’s
la heiress
.”
 

Clémence sighed. Did this fool of an inspector always have to be such a bully?
 

“Well, my dog seems to have a nose for finding dead bodies,” she said wryly. “Maybe she should have an office of her own at 36 Quai des Orfèvres.”
 

BOOK: 2 Éclair Murder
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