Paris in January is all about the soldes, the greatest markdowns of the year on the finest of French haute couture. Yves St. Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are all unbelievably cheap. As the winter breeze blows off the Seine, however, Cara Black’s beloved Parisienne private investigator has found herself stuck in a much darker part of the fashion world.
"MURDER AT THE LANTERNE ROUGE is one of the most atmospheric crime novels I’ve read in a long time. Black so accurately represents the joys and senses of Paris in January that I immediately found myself standing in front of Notre Dame the way she did, feeling every sense of the experience..."
In hidden backrooms of clubs, in old warehouses bricked off from the streets, an unknown number of Chinese immigrants toil in sweatshops to produce knockoffs of the very fashion for which Paris is renowned. The number is unknown because “nobody ever dies in Chinatown”; even if someone disappears, their identity lives on with another Chinese worker.
These are the types of things that are often overlooked in society, pushed aside in the minds of those who want cheap fashion and no guilt. And Aimee Leduc would have felt that way too, except the latest victim of Chinatown’s mills is her partner’s girlfriend. And to top everything off, a mystery has evolved with an ancient 14th-century mathematical formula, a dead student of Paris’s most elite engineering school, and a plot twist that harkens to the dark side of today’s battle for alternative energy.
So Leduc, veteran of 11 prior cases in Black’s nationally-bestselling series, once again finds herself enveloped in the darker side of the City of Light. Her style has not changed; Leduc is perhaps one of the few PIs in crime fiction who goes to conclude a case wearing a vintage Chanel suit while carrying a massive and valuable Vuitton handbag --- secured for only 20 francs, no less. And the way this case ends, this may be the most dramatic crime to happen to someone wearing Chanel since Jackie Kennedy stained hers in Dallas in 1963.
MURDER AT THE LANTERNE ROUGE is one of the most atmospheric crime novels I’ve read in a long time. Black so accurately represents the joys and senses of Paris in January that I immediately found myself standing in front of Notre Dame the way she did, feeling every sense of the experience, as the floodlit cathedral glowed in the middle of the Seine.
For fans who have followed Leduc’s adventures since her first volume, MURDER IN THE MARAIS, they won’t be disappointed by this latest installment. For those like myself who are meeting her for the very first time here, you’ll want to get a copy of the other 11 as soon as possible.
Reviewed by Greg Fitzgerald on March 15, 2012