I just recently finished reading “MURDER BELOW MONTPARNASSE" by Cara Black. I have read at least 5 of the 13 books in the Aimée Leduc series. Instead of writing a book review, I will write about why I love reading this French detective series.
- Aimée Leduc, the star of these noir novels, is the coolest French private detective ever. She rides her motor scooter around Paris. She catches bad guys while wearing a Chanel scarf and a vintage leather jacket that she found at a Parisian flea market. She lives in a beautiful but frigidly cold apartment overlooking the Seine. Aimée is a genius computer hacker and owns her own computer firm. Aimée only dates bad boys.
- Her best friend is a chic reporter who also sometimes writes for a fashion magazine, and Aimée’s sidekick, René Friant, is a “handsome dwarf” who sports a black belt in martial arts and also a fellow brilliant computer hacker.
- Reading the book is like a taking a trip to the parts of Paris that tourists dare not venture or could only hope to stumble into. Aimee is very reckless and always gets in trouble. She lives a dangerous but very exciting life, and meets all kinds of interesting characters. She will take you to the back alleys of Paris, secret gardens, centuries-old Gothic buildings, working-class ethnic neighborhoods, Paris Chinatown, and the more popular museums such as Musée d’Orsay. etc. You can party with her at one of those uber-chic exclusive underground retro parties.
- Reading the book is also a culinary tour of the French gastronomy. Aimee always drinks French champagne and chills a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on her windowsill. All throughout the books are mentions of croissant, le café, croque-monsieur and fineFrench cuisine. Prepare to be hungry! (This explains why I am always eating a chocolate almond croissant while reading one of these novels.)
- The book is well-written and full of substance. This is not a fluffy book. It has enough style, drama and action. The story revolves around Aimee’s search for her American mother and the death of her father who was a cop. The villains are not your everyday people and the characters are well-developed.
Final thoughts: Paris through the eyes of a kick-ass French chick. Mouthwatering French food. Parisian fashion. Reading Cara Black’s novels is a delicious rendezvous in the City of Light while wearing my pj’s in my comfy bed and sipping a glass of French bubbly.
(MURDER BELOW MONTPARNESSE is about a Russian art theft and brief stint in Silicon Valley. I’ll say – “read it!” if you love Paris and detective mystery novels minus the gore.)