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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

‘Murder in Pigalle’ by Cara Black

Published by Turnaround,
23 March, 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-6169-5284-5
Aimee Leduc rides again, and this time she’s pregnant!

The backdrop is the run up to the 1998 World Cup in Paris, where the police are more concerned with herding football fans and projecting a “disciplined” face to the world than solving the more serious crimes happening to their citizens.  A serial rapist is breaking into homes and attacking teenage girls.  This would have nothing to do with Aimee, trying hard not to smoke or drink in the light of her impending motherhood, until her friend’s teenage daughter, Zazie, disappears. Police think it’s just a case of teenage rebellion, but they don’t know that she was following the man she thought was the rapist.

Armed with this knowledge, and a promise to Zazie’s parents, Aimee goes looking for the teenager, unaware of the true nature of the crimes and of where Zazie fits in at all. Battling against her pregnant state, as well as the resistance from her own friends and colleagues that she should be involved, she once more tries to push the police into doing their job by doing some of it for them.  Not content with making noises from the background, she is accused of inciting rioting and is shot at, but still persists to expose a paedophile and rock the establishment.

I have liked Cara Black’s writing for many years, she creates a wonderful picture of Paris which leaps off the page and evokes memories of very small black coffees, croissants, and cafes where you can people watch with impunity.  Her characters have a good depth to them, they are sometimes stupidly human, but likeable, and she is not afraid to have grey characters who are not quite within the law, but you like them anyway.  Murder in Pigalle is another colourful adventure in the Aimee Leduc series.  It is not easy to put this down as you walk with Aimee down the Paris streets, feeling her frustrations (and morning sickness) and relating to her anguish in the face of seeming indifference from the police, and others. 

Delightfully written and gripping, with a twist that you are not expecting.  Enjoy.
Reviewer: Amanda Brown

Cara Black was born in Chicago but has lived in California’s Bay Area since she was five years old. Before turning to writing full-time, she tried her hand at a number of jobs: she was a barista in the Basel train station café in Switzerland, taught English in Japan, studied Buddhism in Dharamsala in Northern India, and worked as a bar girl in Bangkok (only pouring drinks!). After studying Chinese history at Sophia University in Tokyo—where she met her husband, Jun, a bookseller, potter, and amateur chef—she obtained her teaching credential at San Francisco State College, and went on to work as a preschool director and then as an agent of the federally funded Head Start program, which sent her into San Francisco’s Chinatown to help families there—often sweatshop workers—secure early care and early education for their children. Each of these jobs was amazing and educational in a different way, and the Aimée Leduc books are covered in fingerprints of Cara’s various experiences. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 14 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.
Her love of all things French was kindled by the French-speaking nuns at her Catholic high school, where Cara first encountered French literature and went crazy for the work of Prix Goncourt winner Romain Gary. Her junior year in high school, she wrote him a fan letter—which he answered, and which inspired her to make her first trip to Paris, where her idol took her out for coffee and a cigar. Since then, she has been to Paris many, many times. On each visit she entrenches herself in a different part of the city, learning its secret history. She has posed as a journalist to sneak into closed areas, trained at a firing range with real Paris flics, gotten locked in a bathroom at the Victor Hugo museum, and—just like Aimée—gone down into the sewers with the rats (she can never pass up an opportunity to see something new, even when the timing isn’t ideal—she was headed to a fancy dinner right afterwards and had a spot of bother with her shoes). For the scoop on real Paris crime, she takes the flics out for drinks and dinner to hear their stories—but it usually turns into a long evening, which is why she sticks with espresso.

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