Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Aimee Leduc: Murder in the Marais

Not every book can be one of the best books you ever read. Some books are so good, so filled with nuance, insights and subtleties that even if they are made into a movie, they can’t begin to capture the experience of having read the book.

(available from at $10.40 new and from $1.97 + shipping used)

This isn’t one of those. As I read this book, as I followed the main character, Aimee LeDuc, through the streets of Paris, solving the mystery of who is killing Jews who survived the Holocaust – and why – I kept thinking “this is like reading a made-for-TV movie, you know, the ones that went almost straight to video/DVD?”

I was intrigued when Amazon recommended this series to me, but not surprised – remember, I read Donna Leon, James Lee Burke, and have a history of buying mysteries and detective stories set in exotic locations. But I only ordered one, to test the waters.

There isn’t a lot of depth. The author, Cara Black, gives her main character Aimee LeDuc about as much substance as a cartoon character. She changes clothes a lot, she has very interesting friends, she is smart, and sassy, and savvy, and more than a little edgy. And . . . I kept reading. I even think I will buy another one, just to see. I’m not enamored, but . . . I am intrigued, mildly intrigued, intrigued enough to give it another shot.

There is something about the book that keeps me reading. Could it be the Paris setting? 🙂 Could it be the gritty reality of Aimee’s interactions? Could it be that her shallowness is deceptive, and that if I read more books in the series I will understand her better? Could it be her amazing cast of characters, including her partner, a computer-savant-dwarf?

She includes a lot of Paris-reality. Aimee’s apartment has serious heating problems, and she often takes a hot bath just to warm up – as long as the hot water lasts. In her Paris it rains. In her Paris, dealing with the bureaucracy, while not particularly corrupt, is endlessly frustrating. Her Paris is peopled with people a whole lot like us, warts and all. For me, this is a plus.

Cara Black is a little skimpy on motivation; the plot reminds me of The DaVinci Code, it doesn’t really hang together all that well. In spite of all that, I found myself enjoying riding through Paris in the rain on a little mo-ped, crashing through the back of the Issa Miyake showroom and grabbing some items from the bin to disguise me as I escaped, and grabbing a croissant here and there, smelling the Tarte Tatin from the alleyway . . . I did not enjoy the fight on the slick tiles of the Paris rooftops at all.

If you like mysteries, you need to get acquainted with Cara Black’s Aimee LeDuc, just to be able to have an opinion when another detective-loving-book-reader asks. If you already have stacks of books waiting to be read – this is a good one for reading in airports while waiting for a delayed flight.

(Side Note: The Marais is the old Jewish Quarter of Paris, and it is in the process of serious gentrification. There is an old post-card and poster store located there, with items to die for – at prices to match. It is also near the Musee Carnavalet, probably one of the best museums in Paris.

Hôtel Carnavalet
23, rue de Sévigné
75003 Paris
Standard : 01 44 59 58 58
Fax : 01 44 59 58 11)

October 12, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Bureaucracy, Community, Crime, Detective/Mystery, France, Living Conditions


  1. Hmmm interesting, its been a while since i’ve read a good novel… i might gve this one a shot after the kite runner

    Comment by Blue Dress | October 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. Ummmm, Blue Dress, this is no where near the level of Kite Runner. I’m trying to remember, did you read A Thousand Splendid Suns, the new Hosseini follow-up to KR?

    You might like Aimee better than I do – she’s closer to your age and it IS Paris! 😉 But this is entertainment, not really what I would call a good novel.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 12, 2007 | Reply

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