The second Aimée Leduc investigation set in Paris
When Anaïs de Froissart calls Parisian private investigator Aimée begging for help, Aimée assumes the woman wants to hire her to do surveillance on her philandering politician husband again. Aimée is too busy right now to indulge her. But Anaïs insists Aimée must come, that she is in trouble and scared. Aimée tracks Anaïs down just in time to see a car bomb explode, injuring Anaïs and killing the woman she was with.
Anaïs can’t explain what Aimée just witnessed. The dead woman, Anaïs says, is Sylvie Coudray, her cheating husband’s long-time mistress, but she has no idea who wanted her dead, and Anaïs officially hires Aimée to investigate. As she digs into Sylvie Coudray’s murky past, Aimée finds that the dead woman may not be who Anaïs thought she was. Her Belleville neighborhood, full of North African immigrants, may be hiding clues to Sylvie’s identity. As a prominent Algerian rights activist stages a hunger protest against new immigration laws, Aimée begins to wonder whether Sylvie’s death was an act of terrorism, and who else may be at risk.
After a first-class debut in 1999's Anthony-nominated Murder in the Marais, sassy detective Aim e Leduc returns, offering an intriguing glimpse of Paris's gruff Belleville district, known for its high concentration of Arab immigrants. The suspense begins immediately with Aim e receiving a puzzling, urgent call from her friend Ana s. On arriving at their meeting spot, Aim e witnesses a car bombing--and soon learns that the bombing's victim was the mistress of Ana s's government minister husband, Philippe. By questioning locals, she discovers that the dead woman, Sophie, had an alias, Eug nie Grandet (not to be confused with Balzac's woeful character), and lived what looked like a dual life. Sophie's liaison with Philippe suggested elegance and exclusivity, but her life as Eug nie placed her in the middle of a tumultuous drama involving a secretive North African radical group. Some of Black's strongest writing is in her descriptions of Belleville's heady atmosphere. As Aim e searches deeper for clues, she attracts the attention of ruthless people who would rather she didn't snoop, while her findings reveal a dark side to immigrant politics that Philippe and the rest of the French government would prefer she left alone. But Aim e, never one to take non for an answer, smartly hones in to pull off a thrilling finale that nicely exhibits the author's creative skills.