Parisian AIMÉE LÉDUC is one P.I. who really gets into it, be it surfing the web, traveling through sewers, or going undercover among neo-Nazis. That's just the kinda hands-on kinda half-American, half-French gal she is.
Aimée makes her living as a private investigator in the Paris, aided by her partner, René Friant, a "handsome dwarf" with green eyes, a goatee and considerable computer skills. Which comes in handy, because they specialize in computer forensics and corporate security.
In their first recorded case (and Black's first novel), 1998's Murder in the Marais, nominated for both an Anthony and a Macavity, they're hired by a rabbi to decipher a fifty-year-old photo and soon find themselves mixed up in Nazis, past and present, old war crimes, and some very recent murders.
In the follow-up, Murder in Belleville, Aimée Leduc helps out a pal, a Defence Minister's wife. The path leads to Belleville, the working-class neighbourhood where Edith Piaf lived, and a ragout of intrigue, featuring a car bombing, Islamic fundamentalists, a hunger strike and murder.
And so it goes throughout this "consistently satisfying" (Booklist) series, now up to eight novels (and counting) with the 2008 publication of Murder in the Rue de Paradis (like her hero, Léo Malet, Black seems intent on investing every nook and cranny of the City of Light with murder and mayhem).
But it's not just her setting (although few have done it better) -- Black also manages to invest the series with a defiant hipness that may acknowledge the past traditions of the genre, but never caves in to slavish devotion. Aimée's her own woman; definitely one of a kind, a thoroughly modern gumshoe with a thoroughly modern outlook and a penchant for retro clothing, She may bill herself as a computer/security expert, but don't kid yourself -- she's the real deal. And Black's not just one of the best women P.I. writers currently working the mean streets, but one of the best P.I. writers around, period.
Cara Black currently lives in San Francisco.
STRAIGHT RFROM THE AUTHOR'S MOUTH
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