#2 Aimee Leduc mystery set in Paris. Aimee, a private investigator who apparently usually deals in computer investigations, once again gets caught up in more physical pursuits when she attempts to help a friend of hers whose husband is a diplomat dealing with some touchy foreign negotiations with Algeria. Anais leaves Aimee a cryptic message telling her where to meet, and when she arrives, she sees Anais talking with a woman whose car blows up right in front of them as the woman gets in it to leave--and then some thugs begin chasing them as they make a harried getaway on Aimee's moped down the subway tunnel.
Shaken to the core, Aimee learns that the woman was Anais' husband's mistress, who has some possible connection to arms dealing and also possibly to the negotiations that Philippe is involved in. As she careens from one improbable situation to another, the story seems to get more and more out of control.
That said--if it weren't for some of these silly situations--I like Aimee for the most part, and her circle of friends, including her business partner, her dog named Miles Davis, and the haunting clues about her past. I do get a bit tired of all the designer clothes and accessories mentioned (not my thing) but there are enough strong points about this book to keep me wanting to read on and to just take some parts with a grain of salt.
In this book, P.I. Aimee Leduc must discover who set off a car bomb that killed one woman and injured her friend's sister. She finds herself mixing with Algerian immigrants - some legal, others sans-papier - as she exposes deception and blackmail within the government.
I had the first book in this series on my Wish List for months on end. I couldn't borrow it from my local library so I started with the second in the series. To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly. I have read rave reviews of Ms. Black's books on several mystery forum sites, but found Murder in Belleville to be dull and boring despite the Paris setting. I quit after 100 or so pages and removed the rest of her books from my Wish List. What a pity, I had such high hopes.
First Line: Aimée Leduc's cell phone rang, startling her, as she drove under the leafy poplars tenting the road to Paris.
The phone call is from the sister of Aimée's friend Martine. Anaïs is the self-absorbed wife of a government minister. Crying and frightened, she insists that Aimée meet her on a street in the tough neighborhood of Belleville. Belleville, once the home of internationally famous singer Édith Piaf, is now better known for its high concentration of Arab immigrants.
Aimée arrives at the address, and she and Anaïs narrowly escape a car bombing which kills the former mistress of Anaïs's husband. Although the explosion has brought back all the horror of her own father's death, Aimée reluctantly agrees to try to find out why this particular woman would have been the target of a bomb.
The further she digs, the more unsettling are the clues she finds. The dead woman had an alias, and it appears that she led a double life. In one, she was the mistress of a government minister, in the other, she was right in the middle of a situation involving a secret North African radical group. As Aimée continues her investigation, she attracts the notice of people who will stop at nothing to end her snooping, but her findings-- that there is a dark side to immigrant politics that the government doesn't want known-- are too important to ignore.
Author Cara Black is sending me on a tour of Paris, France, one book-- and one neighborhood-- at a time. It is a tour that I am fast learning to savor. A little bit of historical background, a little architecture... add interesting local characters, an intriguing puzzle, and a stylish private eye who doesn't know when to quit, and I'm settled in for the evening.
I found the politically charged theme of immigration to be absorbing, and the more crime fiction I read that's set outside the United States, the more I learn that this is also a problem in many parts of the world. (If you read mysteries set outside the US, you also learn other countries' equivalents of dialing 911 and other bits of trivia such as the fact that "Jane Does" are called "Yvette" in France.)
Aimée is just the sort of strong yet vulnerable character that I like to follow in a series, and the action-filled finale of Murder in Belleville found me starting to chew a fingernail more than once. The only thing in the entire book that bothered me was Aimée's on-again-off-again lover, Yves, whom I found distracting. Fortunately his scenes are few, so he was a minor annoyance.
Do you love France? Do you love reading books set in other countries? Do you love strong-yet-flawed main characters? Do you love carefully crafted mysteries? If you said yes to any of these questions, I would suggest you get your hands on a book written by Cara Black so you can become acquainted with Aimée Leduc!