Review of Murder in the Marais: An Aimeé Leduc Investigation, Vol. 1 by Cara Black (1998)

Bottom line:  There were elements that I didn’t think were done as well as they could have been, but still an entertaining ride for the most part.

Rating:  Recommended if: You’re interested in a mystery series set in Paris, are looking for a new series to get behind, or you can get it for free or on sale.

Blurb:

A new mystery series set in Paris introduces intrepid detective Aimeé Leduc.

It is November 1993 and the French prime ministerial candidate is about to sign a treaty with Germany that will severely restrict immigration, reminiscent of the Vichy laws. Aimeé Leduc is approached by a rabbi to decipher a fifty-year-old encrypted photograph and place it in the hands of Lili Stein. When she arrives at Lili’s apartment in the Marais, the old Jewish quarter of Paris, she finds a corpse in whose forehead is carved a swastika. With the help of her partner, a dwarf with extraordinary computer hacking skills, Aimeé is determined to solve this horrendous crime. Then more murders follow. Her search for the killer leads her to a German war veteran involved in the 1940s with a Jewish girl he was supposed to send to her death. It takes Aimeé undercover inside a neo-Nazi group, where she must play a dangerous game of current politics and old war crimes. Many of the older Jews in the Marais are afraid and prefer to leave the past alone, but the horrible legacy of the death camps and the words “never forget” propel Aimeé to find out the true identities of the criminals past and present.

Review:

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. It’s set in Paris, goes back and forth from World War II to the present, and has an interesting murder. However, the pieces just didn’t work for me. I found her characters flat and difficult to relate to, and there are a lot of intricate threads to keep track of during the book. The ending seemed overly complicated and implausible – kind of like Romeo and Juliet but with a slightly happier ending.

All that to say, I didn’t hate the book, I just didn’t love it. There are twelve Aimeé Leduc novels out, and I can see that with a little more polishing and finesse, they could be great. The main characters certainly have potential, they just need a little more fleshing out. I haven’t decided yet whether I want to try any more of these, they’re relatively pricy for an initial novel I wasn’t crazy about, but I got the first one free from my library, so maybe I’ll pick up the second one the next time I’m in.

Be warned that there are some graphic and disturbing elements to the story. I’d maybe rate it on the John Grisham level of intensity.

Available: iTunes for $9.99, Barnes & Noble and Amazon e-books at $7-$9, and as a paperback from $5-$10.

More Info: Check out the author’s website here.

What did you think? Did you like the book?

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