Monday, June 06, 2016

Bold New Aimée Leduc Crime Novel, MURDER ON THE QUAI, Cara Black

Someday I'll see Paris -- and when I do, I hope there will be an "app" for my smartphone that directs me to all the "quartiers" where the Aimée Leduc mysteries take place, with details of plot, and suggestions for where to enjoy the morning coffee-and-croissant or the evening dining and dancing. Wouldn't that be great? It's also an incentive to read these popular detective novels, set in that glittering and romantic city.  With MURDER ON THE QUAI, Cara Black provides her 16th title.

Long-time fans of the series will be startled to open this book and find a young Aimée, already clever at finding secondhand clothing with haute couture, struggling to do homework and prepare for a test in medical school! The book's actually a prequel to the other 15, and it introduces the reasons this stylish young woman will desert the classroom to take over her family's detective business -- as well as providing answers to many questions readers may have wondered about in the past, like how she started riding motorbikes, where her dog (named Miles Davis, a bichon frise) came from, how she met her super-hacker dwarf partner in crimesolving René, and -- most urgent of all -- the truth of how her father was framed and (gulp) met a dire end.

But if you've never read a Cara Black/Aimée Leduc mystery before, this one's still a great place to start. It opens in November 1989, on the weekend when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Quick math: that would be just 44 years since Paris's occupation, right? So of course, there's a plot thread involving Nazi brutality and gold, as well as Resistance fighters -- many still living at that time, as well as their children, and you know that part about how many generations will carry a crime with them? (Well, okay, the Bible says it differently, but you know what I mean, right?)

I enjoyed romping with Aimée through the Paris days and nights, and watching her grasp each hint and clue about both a crime she happens to investigate, and her own family's secrets. No wonder she chose a different route from medical school -- investigation and operating on a blend of sharp reasoning and fierce instinct suit her like a ... shall we say, like a tenderly aged Chanel jacket??

From Soho Press, which has been Cara Black's publisher from the start -- a gem of a prequel, indeed.

No comments: