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By Cara Black

Soho Crime, 2007 ($23.00)
ISBN-10: 1569474443
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-444-0

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Aimee Ledue is burning the midnight oil, trying to meet an important deadline, when her phone rings. A woman’s voice calls her by name and pleads with her to come down to the courtyard. Against her better judgment she agrees, but no damsel in distress is she, she takes her gun with her. She finds a newborn baby, no mother in sight. She knows nothing about infants, but she can’t leave her out in the cold night air. One might think her next step would be to call the authorities, but the assumed mother begged her not to involve the police, and Aimee decides to honor her wish, for a while, anyway.

Her partner Rene, worried that Aimee is getting too attached to the child, and that she is neglecting their business, tries to get her to put the little girl, who Aimee names Stella, in the hands of the child welfare department. She says she will, soon. As days go by, he and Aimee’s other friends grow to love Stella too, and they all pitch in to help with her care. Aimee’s feelings about Stella and the separation from her mother are linked with her own tragic childhood, and she wants this baby to have a better life.

Krzysztof Linski, would-be heir to the Polish throne and impoverished student at the Sorbonne, takes part in a peaceful student demonstration that turns violent. Someone has framed him, and he is rejected by the members of his group. He goes on run from the police while he tries to clear his name. His path crosses Aimee’s when both visit the morgue to view the body of a murdered student. Their separate quests are linked, although they don’t realize it until things get very dangerous for both.

Aimee has always had a weakness for bad boys, and documentary filmmaker Claude is just her type. She enlists his aid to clean up the videos of the student demonstration, hoping to see Stella’s mother in the crowd. They share a bottle of wine, than another, and nature takes its course...

Ms. Black does a wonderful job of depicting the scenery and atmosphere of the Ile St. Louis. When Aimee walks the lanes of the island past centuries-old townhouses, and when she is running for her life in the sewers underneath them, the reader feels a part of this world. The characters are well-drawn, in shades of gray. The "good guys" have flaws, and the bad boys are not entirely without redeeming qualities. This is an excellent entry in an excellent series.

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