Last year, I fell in love with Cara Black’s Paris while reading MURDER AT THE LANTERNE ROUGE. From her dynamic main character Aimée Leduc, to her immersive descriptions of the City of Light, Black has created a series that becomes more and more endearing with each book --- something I discovered as I went back to read several other titles over the past year.
So it was with great anticipation that I awaited the review copy of MURDER BELOW MONTPARNASSE here at the office. I had it stashed in my bag the moment I saw it, and was well into it on my train ride home.
MURDER BELOW MONTPARNASSE finds Aimée Leduc stranded at her Paris office, without her partner-in-crime René, who is on a plane to take a lucrative job in Silicon Valley. She still has her competent employee Saj and a new intern, but René has left a hole in Aimée’s life --- in many ways.
"Fans won’t be disappointed by MURDER BELOW MONTPARNASSE; it’s one of the best in an already-strong series. They may be surprised, however, by the biggest plot twist at the end."
However, René is barely across the Atlantic when Aimée gets into trouble. She and Saj are driving René’s beloved Citroën when they are cut off by a van and find a dead man on the windshield of the damaged car. As Saj is put in custody, the question becomes not if they killed him, but rather if he was already dead…and what exactly that van was doing on that street.
Suddenly, Aimée finds herself thrust into the deepest, darkest depths of Paris’s art scene --- a land where money is no object when it comes to owning prestige pieces. As Aimée digs deeper into the dead body that landed on the window of the Citroën, however, she realizes that one particular fine piece of artwork may be worth more than just money.
Cara Black’s fans have fallen in love with Aimée Leduc’s Paris because it is so well defined; from the blaring horn of a closing Metro door, to the bells of the churches chiming in the morning, right up to the dark side of the city’s inhabitants, the environment always feels real. Aimée is an endearing character, conquering Paris’s dirtier side in only the best haute couture. Just as Sue Grafton did with Kinsey Millhone in California, Black has created a heroine private investigator who can transcend the murder scene to create a crime series that feels like going home each year.
Fans won’t be disappointed by MURDER BELOW MONTPARNASSE; it’s one of the best in an already-strong series. They may be surprised, however, by the biggest plot twist at the end. Black has thrown us another curveball, and I can’t wait for next year to come around to see in which direction Aimée’s life will go next.
Reviewed by Greg Fitzgerald on March 15, 2013