Murder at the Porte de Versailles – Cara Black

I was fortunate enough to discover Clara Black’s Aimee Leduc series with the first installment, “Murder in the Marais,” and I have purchased and read every one since, at the moment it was published. In this instance, thanks to NetGalley, I read the twentieth book in the series ahead of the publication date and it did not disappoint. NOTE: In my opinion, this is a series you will appreciate most if you read it chronologically. We know early on in the series that Aimee’s now deceased father was a police investigator who left the force under a serious cloud. He raised Aimee after her radical American mother deserted them. Each mystery takes place in a different section (arrondissement or recognizable neighborhood) of Paris. Aimee’s friend and colleague Rene, a Little Person with serious self defense skills and advanced computer capabilities is featured in every book. Black writes in a spare manner, but conveys the atmosphere of Paris/the particular section that is the focus of the book, characters’ backstories, personalities, dreams and motivations, and the plot itself brilliantly. All twenty books are at least four stars, some five star reads. Murder at the Porte de Versailles opens with Aimee’s daughter Chloe’s third birthday party. Chloe naturally changes the trajectory of the series as Aimee has to consider her in her risk taking, but when her dear friend Boris is seriously injured in bombing of the police lab, she sometimes forgets to put Chloe first. Because by nature, Aimee has to take risks and is passionate about her work. Throughout each book, Black uses a few French words and phrases, adding to the feeling of being in France and to the context in which Aimee operates. She is a croissant and espresso breakfast person, a person who will buy thrift store Chanel over fast fashion, politically aware … of French politics. I love this. Unaccountably, there is evidence that Boris had something to do with the bombing. This series starts in 1999 and we have just reached 2001 in Murder at the Porte de Versailles. 9/11 is on everyone’s minds when there is destruction like this. Paris and France are full of Iranians. There is still interest in finding activists from the 1980s who committed acts of terrorism. Rene and Aimee and their employee Saj, using 2001 technology and old-fashioned detective skills, set out to clear Boris. Black gives us wonderful characters and places us in Paris in every book. This is no exception. I loved teenager Hugo, who captured information on video, his grandfather who is loopy and not terribly honorable, Boris’s partner who is convinced he was cheating, and others I won’t mention for fear of spoilers. I highly recommend the whole series, including this book.

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