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Friday 3 August 2018

‘Murder on the Left Bank’ by Cara Black

Published by Soho Crime,
19 June 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-616-95927-2 (HB)

There are several constants in a novel in the Aimee Leduc series:  To begin with there is always Paris, in which a crime for Aimee to solve takes place in a different section.  Then there is Aimee’s juggling between her job running the agency with her partner, Rene, trying to solve the crime and getting herself into danger, and her baby girl, Chloe, now several months old.  And of course, her mysterious mother who disappeared when she was young and is a wanted woman, as well as her memory of her father, a member of corrupt Parisian cops, murdered when he tried to quit the group.

The victim on the Left Bank is the young nephew of an attorney charged with delivering to the prosecutor a tell-all notebook compiled over decades by an old man, an accountant, detailing payoffs, bribes and other nefarious payments to the corrupt cops known as The Hand, including Leduc pere.  Instead he hides the notebook and meets up with his girlfriend.  The attorney hires Aimee to find the notebook.  And additional pressure is brought to bear by The Hand when they mistakenly arrange to kidnap Aimee’s friend’s young daughter instead of Chloe.  Along the way, there are other murders, including that of the kidnapper (so much for making mistakes; The Hand fixes everything).

Oh, another constant arises when Aimee runs into blind alleys:  Mobier, a retired corrupt cop, friend of her father and her godfather and someone Aimee has a love-hate relationship with; her father’s other friends, and her family.  As Bogie said in Casablanca:  We’ll always have Paris.  And the author demonstrates that with the sights and sounds of the twisting streets and ancient buildings.  For that reason alone, the novel is recommended.  Of course the plot also helps.
Reviewer: Theodore Feit

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.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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