Murder in Passy is one of a series of mysteries by Cara Black set in Paris, featuring Aimée Leduc, who runs a detective agency along with her colleague René, a dwarf. They have both been wounded in a previous investigation, and Aimée has just recovered when her mentor, Commissaire Morbier, asks for her help. Morbier’s Basque girlfriend, Xavierre, has not been returning his calls, and he’s worried she might be having an affair. Aimée agrees to attend Xavierre’s daughter’s wedding rehearsal party to see what she can find out. She ends up finding Xavierre’s body, and Morbier becomes the prime suspect. Aimée works to clear Morbier’s name and discovers that Xavierre, when she was young, had ties to Basque terrorists, and that her daughter might also be involved with a radical Basque separatist group. Meanwhile, Morbier warns Aimée of police corruption and tells her to trust no one in the police, not even her boyfriend Melac. Things come to a crisis when a Spanish princess, invited to be the guest of honor at a reception to celebrate the French government’s accord with the Basques, is kidnapped. Will Aimée be able to save the princess and find Xavierre’s killer?
Cara Black is wonderful at conveying the atmosphere of Paris, and she often explores areas of the city that tourists don’t see. This book is set in a wealthy neighborhood, which used to be its own village, and this provides an excellent contrast to the sordid goings-on. Aimée is a great character: smart and fashionable, and capable of great physical feats: in this book, she scales a rooftop in high heels. She has a mysterious past. Her father was killed in an explosion, and her American mother disappeared when Aimée was eight years old. Morbier knows what happened to her mother, but he’s not telling her because he thinks she will be too upset if she knows the truth.
Black started the series in the 1990s, and keeps it set in the 1990s. This particular volume takes place in 1997, but there is not much to indicate that it’s not set in the present day. Aimée does things with cell phones that I’m not sure were possible in 1997, but then I could be remembering wrong. Murder in Passy is a very suspenseful read, and there are many more of Aimée’s adventures, including a prequel which is about to be published.
Murder in Passy can be borrowed from the Browsing Collection at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library: http://mirlyn.lib.umich.edu/Record/011484693 .