If you’ve been dying to go to Paris but can’t afford the airfare, read Cara Black. Paris is a central character in her mysteries—you will be immersed in the sights, smells, and sounds so vividly you’ll be sure you’re there. Her latest Aimée Leduc mystery is set in the part of the Marais which holds the oldest Chinatown in Paris (there’s more than one), but also involves the only medieval Templar tower left, the Musée des Arts et Métiers, several delicious cafes, not to mention some gritty cobblestones covered in ice and an abandoned métro station now home to the homeless, to name only a few vividly portrayed locales.
But what is travel without excitement, romance, and shopping? Black provides them all. For those of you familiar with Aimée’s style, you won’t be surprised that her most effective weapon is often her stiletto heels on her boots (though she has to work to keep them from catching in grates and cobblestones), and at one point she wonders how she’ll get the blood out of her vintage Chanel dress as she slips into unconsciousness. Although Aimée’s love life is far from dead, the real source of romantic interest here lies with her agency partner, the dwarf René, and a mysterious Chinese woman. René’s met his soul mate. Can Aimée and he save her?
For action and excitement, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge offers a tangled web of deception as Aimée steps into the middle of a turf war in Chinatown. A red-haired engineer has been suffocated in clear plastic, the kind that secures merchandise to palettes. The rats have already gnawed his flesh, and Aimée will never forget the look of terror in those eyes. But why is he lying outside the luggage shop in Chinatown where René’s soul mate works and why is her photo in the dead man’s wallet? High tech geeks in 1998, 14th century alchemists, complications from Aimée’s past including her terrorist mother and her anything but straightforward godfather, the Chinese mafia, police corruption, the Nazis—you get the idea. Don’t start reading Murder at the Lanterne Rouge if you’ve got a busy schedule. You’ll neglect your duties in order to keep turning pages—I speak from experience. But if life is getting dismal, get away to Paris with a totally entertaining read.