Murder in Passy by Cara Black
Passy, the sixteenth arrondissement, or district, of Paris is the setting for the action in Cara Black’s recent novel featuring private investigator Aimée Leduc. Astride her vintage Vespa scooter and armed with not much more than her Prada boots, designer scarf, and no nonsense attitude, Aimée takes on a tough case…that of clearing her mentor’s name of murder.
Cara Black’s novels, each set in a different arrondissement of Paris, are compelling explorations of the City of Light’s darker environs. Passy, once a small village on the outskirts of Paris, is now the dwelling place of the wealthy and well to do. A place, it is said, where even the maids wear pearls. But the district is not without its grim history, including its selection by the Gestapo during the occupation as an ideal location for its torture chambers. Aimée finds she must peel back layer after layer of past deeds and doubtful doings to get at the truth.
The story is set in 1997 as the Basque separatist movement is moving toward making peace with the French government. But not all involved are interested in a peaceful solution to that conflict and someone is ready to murder to keep it from happening. Or is that really the case? Could this be a crime of passion, with the political trappings and clues merely red herrings?
The streets of Passy are wet with the rains of autumn as Aimée Leduc prowls in search of a solution. But she is not without allies, chief among them is René, her dwarf associate in the detective business. And what of Melac, the too handsome, too charming, and all too willing police investigator who is like candy to Aimée? She doesn’t trust the flics. She doesn’t do flics as she scornfully tells Melac. Ah, but he is so very charming…
Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Misdirected” for Suspense Magazine