Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Murder in the Palais Royal by Cara Black

Mysterious Reviews: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Crime Novel Reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books


by
An Aimee Leduc Investigation

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-620-9 (1569476209)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-620-8 (9781569476208)
Publication Date: March 2010
List Price: $25.00

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Murder in the Palais Royal by Cara Black
Buy Murder in the Palais Royal by Cara Black

Review: Private investigator Aimee Leduc is framed for the shooting of her business partner by someone who seems to have studied her closely -- or possibly knows her very well -- in Murder in the Palais Royal, the tenth mystery in this series by Cara Black.

Aimee learns that Rene Friant has been hospitalized with a collapsed lung, the result of a bullet to the chest. Unable to talk to him, she visits the scene of the crime -- their shared office -- only to discover that witnesses in the building describe someone very much like her as the shooter. Her only clue is that the woman wore an unusual motorcycle helmet, identical to one Aimee owns, available in only a couple of shops in Paris. She locates the store, and manages to acquire a surveillance video of the entrance where a woman, who even Aimee admits looks strikingly like her, hails a cab after purchasing the helmet. But the cab records indicate the woman was dropped off at Aimee's home address. The police have all the evidence they need to detain Aimee, but pulling a few strings in the department, she remains free to investigate on her own as to why someone has gone to a lot of effort to frame her -- for reasons unknown. Meanwhile, someone is depositing large sums of money into her bank account from an untraceable source outside the country, triggering a financial investigation by the authorities into the possibility that her office is laundering money from abroad.

Murder in the Palais Royal proceeds along at a brisk, at times frantic, pace. There's a lot going on here, especially since the titular crime doesn't even take place until well past the half-way point. In addition to the primary plotlines previously mentioned, there's a subplot that opens the book in which Aimee is preparing to leave for New York City to search for a brother she never knew she had, another having to do with the blackmail of a French government official, and still a third involving someone with surreptitious links to the CIA. In the less capable hands of another author, it would be a bit overwhelming. Still, it's not all that successful either. There's a sense that the reader is being taken along for a ride here, but is not fully engaged, drawn into the story, as it were. There is a direct link to the first book in the series, so it's possible that those who have not read it may not fully appreciate all that occurs -- and why it happens -- in this entry.

Special thanks to Soho Press for providing an ARC of Murder in the Palais Royal for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Her partner, René, has been shot, and eyewitnesses have identified Aimée as the culprit. A mysterious deposit has been made to their firm’s bank account, interesting the taxman in their affairs. Someone seems to be impersonating Aimée; someone wants revenge. Two murders ensue. How do they relate to the youth whom Aimée’s testimony sent to jail in the very first Aimée Leduc investigation, Murder in the Marais?

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