Monday, June 17, 2013

Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black

Reviewed by Kristin

Set in Paris in 1998, Murder Below Montparnasse is the thirteenth installment in the Aimee Leduc series.  Private investigator Aimee Leduc carries on the detecting family tradition, as did her father and grandfather before her.  The series is sprinkled with French phrases and flavors of particular Parisian neighborhoods.  Loyal readers can always count on Aimee to throw on a little black dress, a Hermes scarf, or disguising sunglasses, hop on her Vespa, and zip down the cobblestones of centuries-old Paris streets.

Russian Yuri Volodya calls Aimee to ask for protection for what may be a priceless Modigliani painting.  Before she can see him, Yuri is dead and the painting is missing.  Aimee embarks on an investigation to see if the painting actually exists, and what its significance may be.  Just a little hint: the Modigliani represents a bit of Soviet history that some Russians might prefer forgotten.

Aimee’s business partner and best friend, Rene Friant, has jetted off to Silicon Valley riding on the excitement of the dot com explosion.  Rene quickly finds out that America is a strange and different country, from their eating habits to the long distances that Americans are accustomed to navigating.  Rene has a little excitement himself, departing America in an unexpected manner and returning to Paris to set right what he had unknowingly set amiss.

As always, Aimee is tracking down hints of her long-gone mother, who left when Aimee was only eight years old.  Aimee is continually drawn into investigations throughout the series where she hopes to find her American-born mother.

Online reviews of Murder Below Montparnasse were mixed. Some reviewers felt that the first half of the book dragged on but was redeemed by the faster moving second half.  I enjoyed the story and figured out bits and pieces of the coming revelations.  Because the story is set in the not-too-distant past, it was interesting to read references to cutting edge technology, such as a prototype flash drive.

Although a bit predictable, the ending of the book reveals a story arc twist that will probably change Aimee’s life.

If you’re new to Cara Black’s books and would like to start at the beginning of the Aimee Leduc series, Murder in the Marais is the first title.

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