Friday, May 20, 2016

Review of Murder in the Marais by Cara Black (Soho Press, 1999)

Paris-based Aimée Leduc and her business partner, Rene, specialise in technical investigations, hacking into systems to discover the truth.  After losing her father to a terrorist explosion she has vowed to avoid more traditional cases.  However, given their dire finances and the pleas of one her father’s oldest friends she takes on a case to discover the whereabouts of an elderly Jewish woman’s relatives deported fifty years previously.  When she arrives at the woman’s home in the Marais, the old Jewish quarter of Paris, she finds her dead with a swastika carved into her forehead.  Vowing to seek justice for the dead woman she is soon tangling with far-right neo-Nazis, trying to keep herself alive, and attempting to work out how the past has resurfaced with deadly effect in the present.

Murder in the Marais is the first instalment in the Aimée Leduc series, a sassy female PI operating in Paris.  The story very much fits into the mold of a crime thriller, with Leduc raising against time and fighting a set of baddies as she tries to determine who has killed an elderly Jewish woman.  The pace is high from the start, with a couple of intersecting plot lines concerning historical events during the war and relations between Jews, collaborators and Nazi officials, the return to Paris of one of those officials in his new role as a high-ranking German government trade delegate, and the politics and antics of present-day neo-Nazis.  Leduc careens through these threads, creating much havoc as she seeks to undo and quite happy to break the law in numerous ways for greater justice.  As long as one can suspend realist sensibilities with respect to the plot then it’s an engaging ride that leads to a suspenseful denouement – though the resolution was a little telegraphed.  I was happy enough to go along with the ride and enjoy Leduc’s brand of investigation. 

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