I discovered Cara Black’s wonderful mystery series set in Paris when I attended a Costume Society of America Symposium held in Kansas City several years ago. By now you know I am a huge fan of Independent Bookstores and seek them everywhere I go. My chums and I were on an outing before presentations and happened upon Rainy Day Books www.Newsletter@RainyDayBooks.com just outside Kansas City. While browsing I was attracted to the cover, yes, I do that! I saw that the book was set in Paris, I usually only do English mysteries, but thought why not start something new. I can tell you I was so glad I did. I have read all Cara Black’s work pretty much in order. Must you do that, not really, but I do think we have discussed starting a series with the first book to get the “lay of the land” so to speak. I especially recommend that principle with the Aimée Leduc series. Each book (and it’s title) takes place in a separate Paris Arrondissement. The location sets the scene but the books travel across Paris taking our heroine into many neighborhoods some a bit seedy and some quite swank!
Aimée runs her own computer security company, is very attractive and quite chic, wearing designer clothes, shoes, bags, etc. mostly from vintage stores or the Paris flea markets as well as wearing the newest make-up trends. She rides a vintage Vespa and is a master of disguise because, you see, she is a private investigator as well…of course she is! She is also a feminist, her mother left when she was quite young and we find her “mysterious” disappearance unfold through the series. Aimée’s father was with the police and was killed on duty…this not only haunts her but we learn more about it in each book. She has been raised by her godfather, Morbier, also a policeman. She has major connections with the police along with other important people she can call upon to assist her. Her best friend, Martine, and her business partner, René are always included sometimes prominently sometimes not so much but always there. Of course there are love interests, she does seem to be attracted to “bad boys”, but the stories, in my opinion, are really about the City…how it moves, how it thrives, how it goes about its day to day business and Ms. Black isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with our protagonist, we go into the sewers, the underground tunnels, through parks, cafés, etc….they are truly tutorials on this exciting place called Paris!
Now a little about the newest addition to the series which as the title suggests revolves around Saint-Germain. Aimée is working on a computer security project for the École des Beaux-Arts while there she is asked to look into another matter that involves blackmail. In addition, an old friend comes to her with a request to find someone, basically a terrorist, who is suppose to be dead but her friend says she has seen in Paris. As usual it is filled with twists and turns, people you think Aimée can trust (can she!!!) a body here and there, escapes over roof tops, disguises, escapes through underground tunnels…time for many changes of outfits, an espresso or two, a tryst or two and certainly a narrow escape or two!!! There are new characters, as always, but a couple who have been added over the last couple of books…I don’t wait to spoil the story for you if you are a first time reader so I won’t.
Ms. Black usually gives us a new volume each year as do my other favorite mystery writers, Louise Penny, Charles Finch, Tasha Alexander, Rhys Bowen and Charles Todd among others. I usually wait a bit to read the newest addition from each because a year seems a long time to wait for the next adventure…..don’t you agree!!!!