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MURDER IN THE PALAIS ROYAL
By Cara Black
Soho, March 2010 ($24.00)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Private investigator Aimee Leduc is having a rough week. It begins when her partner, Rene, is shot in their office with her gun by someone who looked a lot like her. The police, naturally, pick her up and treat her as the prime, and only, suspect. Her iron-clad alibi that she was in the arms of a new lover all night is blown out of the water when he says he was with his wife and has no idea who this person is. Could things get worse? Yes, indeed. She's being questioned by the federal authorities about the recent and very large deposits to her bank account, but she has no idea where they're coming from.
Oh yes, the police noticed that when they came to her apartment, her bags were packed and she had a ticket to New York City. The girl can't catch a break. The reason for her trip was to visit the private detective she'd hired to locate her missing half-brother, whom she's not even sure exists. The flics don't buy that story, and her godfather, who holds a high-ranking position with the police, says that this time he isn't going to come to her aid. She's truly on her own. The police have placed the seriously wounded Rene in protective custody, and her other computer expert isn't sure she's not guilty.
She doggedly takes to the streets, back alleys, bistros, even a sex club and the Louvre, trying to find someone who can clear her name. Her best lead is Nicholas, a criminal she's responsible for sending to prison, but that comes to a dead end. It seems that every person who might have information either dies, disappears, or clams up.
This is the 10th in the Aimee Leduc series, and it is one of the best. She is a likable protagonist, tough enough to handle almost anything, but feminine enough to savor the vintage haut couture wardrobe she's picked up in flea markets. The plot is complicated, with elements of blackmail, money laundering, terrorism, and the threat of having links to the Nazi regime revealed, and she manages to tie all the subplots together neatly at the conclusion. The thing I most enjoy is her descriptive ability to make the reader see the glory and grime of Paris as she travels through the ancient streets of the city.
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