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The Art of Crime now streaming ONLY on MHz Choice!

THE SHOW: The Art of Crime is a French police procedural with an artful twist. Les flics in question are an art crimes unit and the fish out of water is the lead detective, a high-tempered jerk knocked down a few pegs for mouthing off, who doesn’t appreciate having to learn anything about art, especially from the squad’s beautiful, if quirky, consulting expert. It was created, in part, by Angèle Herry-Leclerc whose very famous and talented mother, Miou-Miou, features in the first two episodes.

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Eléonore Bernheim & Philippe Duclos in The Art of Crime

THE FORMULA: Despite the switcheroo they pulled on the formula, all the elements of the perfect light-hearted cop/foil story are there, with some really enjoyable flourishes thrown in. There’s your standard overworked, working-class policeman, Captain Antoine Verlay, whose obsession with the job has become a wedge between himself and his wife and children. He’s out among the cultured Parisians, working alongside his gorgeous consultant, Florence, whom he can’t help but like, though they are from different worlds. It all seems very straightforward until Florence’s psychological vertigo won’t allow her to go down a flight of stairs without Verlay by her side. She also seems to hold meaningful conversations with long-dead painters that only she can see. It’s not weird.

[LOCATION] WAS LIKE ANOTHER CHARACTER: Oh, well, how about Paris? And, not just Paris, how about The Louvre, all up and through and around it? They also shot in the Loire Valley at Château d’Amboise and the Clos Luce. Yeah, the former home of French royalty (King Charles VIII died there when he hit his head on a door!) and Leonardo da Vinci’s house. Every scene is stunning – if you’re not looking at breathtaking architecture, you’re looking at the world’s most valuable works of art.

THAT GUY: I had a visceral reaction when I saw Nicolas Gob, who plays Verlay, on screen for the first time. “Where is this roiling surge of love/hate coming from?” I asked myself. “Why do I want to both cry with, but mostly violently smack, this man?” If you watched A French Village (and you really must), you will understand the extremity of my mixed feelings when I realized I was looking at Marchetti, another French policemen who raised having an insufferable personality to an art form. Meanwhile, Eléonore Bernheim as Florence, is nothing short of delightful, exuding charm from every strand of her perfect hair. The two of them would be enough, but the show went ahead and gilded the lily with the addition of the incomparable Philippe Duclos, of Spiral fame, as “Flo-Flo’s” art historian father. Le juge! I miss you. In Art of Crime he is less squirrelly, but only barely, and no less irascible. French TV really has an embarrassment of riches on their hands in their stable of actors.

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Nicolas Gob: A French Village (LEFT), The Art of Crime (RIGHT)

HOW FRENCH IS IT: Florence puts a chocolate bar inside a baguette for a meal on the go, creating a DIY pain au chocolat. A murder victim meets his end while wearing a cravat. Art students throw a rave where everyone is dressed like Marie Antoinette. Oui. It’s super-French.

MAKE A NIGHT OF IT: Even the harshest art critic couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy these utterly appealing mysteries. I suggest settling in with your favorite sparkling beverage, and enjoying the most buttery French pastry you can find, as you indulge in The Art of Crime. It is sure to leave you with a Mona Lisa smile.

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About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.