Reading a Cara Black mystery is like a brisk jog. You trot alongside private investigator Aimée Leduc as she pieces together clues and sometimes runs for her life while solving a murder. Meanwhile, the sights and sounds of Paris go by: hot bread, honking horns, lovers in a park. It’s always a chic, action-filled journey and Black’s latest novel, Murder on the Left Bank, is no exception.
Book number 18 of the Aimée Leduc Investigation series focuses on the murder of a young man tasked with transporting a very desirable notebook. It contains decades worth of corrupted business deals. The information is so dangerous that a secret crime organization called The Hand is willing to kill people for it. It’s Aimée’s job to find the notebook and bring the killers to justice.
Savvy Writing Style
What’s so strong about this story, and most of Black’s work in general, is the author’s ability to bring Paris to life in a quick short hand while unspooling a fast-paced plot. We get brief notes on the history of fascinating Parisian institutions like the Gobelins tapestry workshop or the community pool at Butte-aux-Cailles. A compact paragraph deftly creates a character snapshot and occasional asides describe Aimée’s outward appearance and emotional interior. Having lived for a few months on the Left Bank, I have to say I did crave more words to draw me into that richly historic, vibrant area. I wanted to relish the setting. But Black expertly knows how to include just enough to hold a mystery/thriller reader’s attention. And after all, these are straight up mysteries, not literary explorations.
A Broad Cast of Characters
So how does this novel compare to the others in the series? I’d say it shares the same pace and love of arrondissement. But readers new to Cara Black may be confused by the numerous characters. Morbier, a police colleague of Aimée’s father makes an appearance, as do lawyer Éric Besson, her partner René, her mother, and others. If you haven’t read Black’s work before, your head may spin at the numerous people. But if you’re familiar with their histories as they relate to Aimée, you’ll enjoy the reuniting while appreciating the deeper meaning.
All in all, I enjoyed this latest addition to the Leduc series. And if you’re looking for a lively story that features a hip sleuth while spotlighting the hidden gems of Paris, you’ll like Murder on the Left Bank too.
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