Murder at the Lanterne Rouge: An Aimee Leduc Investigation
by Cara Black
Cover Artist: Ailen Skyhan
Review by Mel Jacob
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616950613
Date: 06 March 2012 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the twelfth Aimee Leduc Investigation, Aimee becomes entangled in the world of illegal Chinese immigration and underground sweatshops in Paris when her partner, the dwarf Rene, befriends and wants to marry a young Chinese girl. Attending a birthday dinner for the young woman, Aimee has her doubts despite the obvious affection between the two. Then, the young woman gets a phone call and leaves. When they try to find her, they discover the corpse of a young man wrapped in plastic by the luggage shop her parents own.
The police suspect the missing woman may have killed him--a strange conclusion, based on her size, strength, and the murder method. Rene fears for his fiancée's life and urges Aimee to find her. Thus begins a long, convoluted search through the Chinese quarter involving crime, identity theft, sweatshops, and murder.
The elderly aunt of the victim hires Aimee to find the killer. The young man told her he had found something important in the fourteenth century archive of the institution where he worked. The Musee is digitizing old archives and he is helping. He warned his aunt should anything happen to him she would find papers in a safe deposit box. She gives those to Aimee along with several computer messages relayed to her after his death.
Despite Aimee's insistence on wearing the height of fashion including expensive high-heeled boots, she manages both the mental and physical aspects of being a detective. She learned much from her policeman father and her godfather also in the police. Tough and determined, she doesn't hesitate to bully or bribe those with information to get what she needs.
She becomes a target both for the murderer and the Chinese controlling the quarter, the sweatshops, and their protection racket. She finds the missing woman chained to a water pipe in a cramped attic and the two flee pursuit. She hides her and warns her to stay out of sight.
As always, an exciting climax puts Aimee's life at stake with no one to help her. She is not immune to injury and must exercise all her ingenuity to survive left imprisoned, alone, and without weapons.
Black drops fashion product names with abandon, but uses her Paris setting to advantage. She builds her mystery in fascinating pieces that rise to an exciting climax. In any event, another title is sure to follow Aimée's adventures. Black has indicated her intention of devoting other novels to the remaining eight of the twenty districts of Paris (arrondissements) she has not yet covered.