Murder Below Montparnasse
An Aimée Leduc Investigation by Cara Black
Review: Paris private investigator Aimée Leduc is on her way to see a potential client when a man falls onto the car she's in — an already dead Serb, she later comes to learn — in Murder Below Montparnasse, the thirteenth mystery in this series by Cara Black.
René Friant, Aimée's partner in their business of corporate security, has accepted a job in the US. One of his friends, Saj de Rosnay, a part-time hacker, has agreed to step in and help in his absence. It is to Saj that one Yuri Volodya had left an envelope containing 5000 francs in Aimée's office earlier that day with his business card and the message "Accept this retainer. Contact me. Urgent." Curious about the potential assignment, she phones him but he doesn't answer. Deciding to meet the man at the address on the card, it is at this point when the car in which she and Saj are in is hit by a man … though initially the police believe, quite reasonably, that it must be the other way around. As Saj was driving and is injured, he is taken by the police for medical treatment and questioning while Aimée meets with Yuri, who asks her to find a valuable painting stolen from his apartment. She's about to say no when he makes reference to knowing her mother, Sydney, who had abandoned the family when Aimée was just 8 years old, and is presently on an international criminal most-wanted list. What does her mother have to do with a missing painting and a dead Serb?
The storyline in Murder Below Montparnasse is really quite interesting but takes a long time to get started and is wildly overcomplicated once it does. Aimée ponders all sorts of possibilities with respect to the relationship between these three elements — the painting: who would want it and why; the dead man: was he the thief, and if so, where is the painting; and her mother — that little of substance happens for the first third or so of the book. And then, when the action does pick up, it takes the most serpentine path possible to get from point A to point B. It's a journey worth taking, but does get rather tiring along the way.
And then there's the subplot of René in California's Silicon Valley, the new CTO of an internet startup. (The book is set in 1998.) It's not at all clear what the point of including this mini-adventure tale here as — slight spoiler — it has nothing to do with Aimée's investigation and kind of abruptly ends without resolution when René literally escapes back to France via a harrowing journey to Mexico City.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Murder Below Montparnasse for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Murder at the Lanterne Rouge
Soho Crime (Hardcover), March 2012
ISBN-13: 9781616950613; ISBN-10: 1616950617
Location(s) referenced in Murder Below Montparnasse: Paris, France; Silicon Valley, California
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Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black — An Aimée Leduc Investigation
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $25.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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