Alice Eclair Spy Extraordinaire: A Recipe For Trouble by Sarah Todd Taylor

Published by Nosy Crow

THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Alice is the best kind of spy, the kind you least expect. With the glamorous backdrop of 1930s Paris, Sarah Todd Taylor brings to life the innocent and spectacularly talented daughter of a Parisian baker who secretly has a talent for more than patisserie.

With inspirations from and referencing the work of Agatha Christie, readers 10+ are guided through a world of mouthwatering desserts and electrifying threats as young Alice lives two lives.

This book is the perfect next read for fans of Robin Stevens’ “Murder Most Unladylike” series set in a similar time period. What the two have in common that is so exciting for the future of children’s and young adult literature is young women at the forefront. It is so vital, especially in fast-paced mystery adventures, to see girls taking on roles such as these as heroes with just as much intelligence and capability.

While working on dazzling cake creations in her mystery novel loving mother’s bakery, Alice Wclair enters what feels like a whole new world of intrigue of her own. For a year she has been receiving anonymous notes with increasingly risky and daring tasks to train her to become a spy – such as challenges to find or drop parcels, learn to pick locks and read codes.

At first she thinks they are perhaps a joke or piece of novelty from her mother, a voracious reader of Agatha Christie, yet it soon becomes clear these are from someone else when the missions became more and more serious, with her even meeting a mystery woman on a bridge to pass on a secret note.

After discovering that a spy will be on a voyage on The Sapphire Express, a glamorous train, Alice uses her baking and persuasion skills to gain a job as a pastry chef on that very journey to learn enemy plans and along the way she learns the two most important rules in being a spy, trust no one and everyone has secrets.

Along her journey, Alice, or as she’s otherwise known, The Little Phantom, is faced with exhilarating challenges at every turn including narrow escapes in her identity and intentions being revealed. The enemy agent she’s in search for aboard The Sapphire Express, L’Anguille, could be anyone, yet she must carry out her investigations in secret for if it’s discovered she’s on board to do more than craft pastries she will be removed from the train at the nearest stop.

It is with this that the two facets of her identity come into play in every moment, her skills as a baker intertwine with her skills as a spy. What is so intriguing about this story is seeing this mission as told from the perspective of someone so greatly talented yet under appreciated.

Alice is underestimated at every turn, making her triumphs all the more exciting and showing the young people who read it that they can do anything.