This series Delivers. Though each installment is independent, there is a thread running through it that continues to ratchet up your interest in the central character, Aimee Leduc. While the independence focuses on the crime at hand (in this case, the murder in the Palais Royal), the connectivity adds carefully measured tidbits of information about Aimee Leduc's past and her ongoing search for information about her long-missing mother. At this point in the series, it does strike one as a little odd that every time Leduc figuratively turns around, she's dealing with a murder. The woman can't go to the grocery store without someone getting murdered in her immediate vicinity in a way that gets her involved. What is ultimately satisfying about this obviously manufactured arrangement is the step-by-step process of discovery that eventually leads to the murderer and his/her capture. They are, in fact, mysteries, as opposed to thrillers. Peripheral characters are well-drawn; the martial arts dwarf partner (Rene), the crusty old policeman godfather (Morbier, who provides us with tantalizing links to Aimee's past while trying to keep her out of trouble in the present), the Indian hacker (Saj), the journalist bff (Martine) and a few others. You settle into this series comfortably and before you know it, like with Aimee and her regular brushes with murder, you're committed to continue. As the series progresses, you are drawn closer and closer to the revelation of secrets about Aimee's mother. I'm trying to catch up. Though, as noted, each of the installments in this series is independent, you will thank yourself later for starting with Murder in the Marais and reading them in order.
I'm riveted by this series. The heroine, Aimee, gets into absolutely outlandish situations from which she usually manages to extricate herself in mostly one piece. All of this takes place in a blur of Parisian history and architecture, flea market finds of couture fashions and unrelenting obstruction by the powers that be. Along the way, we meet concierges, repairmen, coffee shop owners, reporters, nuns, priests, refugees and relics of World War II. In addition, Aimee runs a detective agency specializing in cyber crime with her handsome partner, Rene, who is also her dear friend. Always engrossing is the way the past insinuates itself on the present usually in very unexpected ways. Somehow, our heroine keeps going propelled by the mystery of her mother's apparent abandonment and the unanswered questions concerning her father's death. She's resilient and able to think on her feet. Absorbing and intriguing.
This is certainly as good as any of the previous books of Black's. Several reviewers have taken issue with the issue that Aimee can't move beyond her bad-boy guys, and yet, in real life, don't we continuously see women who never learn and stay in the same bad-boy rut? So it's realistic, at least. Having said that, though, I do wish she could take a chance on Renee. This relationship could be developed slowly; I'm sure both Renee and Aimee have sides of their personality that haven't been shown yet, if Black is afraid that that a steady relationship might make the books lack excitement. Surely after all the books to date, Aimee deserves a chance at a good guy; even good guys can be VERY exciting, if you give them a chance. Take note, Ms. Black, and take a chance with Aimee; we've invested much in her character.
I always read her books before a trip to Paris. I look up every street she goes to on my plastic folding Paris map. Paris becomes familiar. Would recommend her books for anyone going. Plus they are good detective stories. Best if read in sequence but also good story if read alone.
"Murder in the Palais Royal" takes intrepid PI Aimee Leduc to a crime centered in another part of Paris and the extensive description of the neighborhood--this time the Palais Royal on the Right Bank--is as informed and enjoyable as ever. Author Cara Black has fashioned a complex plot that opens with the shooting of Aimee's partner, Rene Friant, with everything pointing to Aimee as the assailant. The story line broadens to include the resurrection of an old act of anti-semitic terrorism, blackmail, more murders and assaults, computer hacking as detective work and betrayal by a friend. The action is well-paced and entertaining, and is by far the best part of the book.
What I liked less about this book (and in truth, others in the series), are the character or action elements that author Black throws into virtually every episode. For example, early in "Palais Royal" Aimee is once again involved with a guy who is "no good for her" AND the book closes with her about to take the plunge with still another questionable mec. After ten books, you would think that the character could grow a little in this area and be a little choosier. A second gripe is the protagonists's obsession with second-hand fashion. References to used designer clothing and observations by secondary characters about Aimee's chicness abound in this book to the point of tiresomeness.
While I'm going in this vein, I have to say that I'm tired of partner Rene Friant being used as prop and less as a supporting character. He's been given an interesting persona--give him more of the stage. In "Palais Royal," he's been relegated to a hospital bed for much of the story. And finally (for now), Aimee's endless pursuit of her mother and other members of her family continues its fruitless course in "Palais Royal." This subplot has gone no where for several books now. Time to fish or cut bait.
Okay, venting over. I like this series and I liked "Murder in the Palais Royal." But I'd like to think that Cara Black has more to invest in her protagonists and other characters. The tour of Paris is a very good hook for these stories, but there can be more variety in the individual episodes, more heft to the plot and growth in the people who populate them.