Cara Black takes us to one neighborhood of Paris after another, each the focus of one book in her Aimée Leduc investigations. This is the fourteenth, and the action involves the district of Pigalle -- nightclubs, bars, the kind of entertainment you don't want your kids knowing about (and maybe not your mom either, if you're not French!). So there's a double irony that Leduc's sleuthing keeps taking her back to this sketchy neighborhood, after dark, in the search for Zazie, the 13-year-old daughter of one of Leduc's friends. It's an investigation with urgency, because Zazie (what a kid!) has been following Aimée Leduc's example, trying to investigate a serial rapist who's terrorizing the neighborhood and a genuine threat Zazie's own peers. Has her "snooping" (complete with taking photos) made her a threat to a seasoned criminal? As the hours tick past, Aimée is increasingly sick at heart, knowing that kidnappers and molesters who hold a child longer are much less likely to release that child.
Complicating Leduc's trademark pavement-trotting in kitten heels and stylish clothing is her own condition: pregnant. She's got the world's longest lasting case of morning sickness, an obvious bulge on her belly, medical appointments to keep (with her assistant sleuth René backing her up, making suggestions about food and baby names and childbirth), and her emotions about "the Bump" are calling up new reactions to a missing child and danger to other girls. And then there's the matter of the baby's father. But that's too complicated to handle during this investigation, yes? No?
Black's Paris is full of energy and enthusiasm, as well as crime and love, and with Aimée Leduc, the most obvious choices are often half thought through, in the rush to uncover evidence, find a trail, do something, now! The combination of threats in MURDER IN PIGALLE drives the plot at breakneck speed -- for me, this is the best Aimée Leduc investigation yet!
Of course, there are a few threads left dangling for the next book (smile). But all in all: a lively and highly satisfying (and very Parisian!) mystery!
PS -- It's from Soho Crime. Of course!