My latest read, well at least the latest one that isn't for my book club or a kids book, is Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black. Aimée Leduc is recruited by an old Russian to recover a stolen painting, but his absolute refusal to provide her with any concrete details does not start her off with the best advantage. Set in Paris in 1999 this story delves into the Serbian underground and the art world's black market. I nice dose of Leninist history works to round out the plot.
This is actually the 13th in the Aimée’s Leduc Investigations series; a fact I was not aware of when I picked it off our preview shelf at work. I will say that it stood alone very well as far as the actual plot is concerned. It was a nicely paced thriller with a real feel for Paris. What I think I missed out on by missing out on the first twelve books is a real appreciation for the characters.
There are a ton of characters that are all very unique and some are only native to this particular volume, a lot are clearly introduced and developed in previous entries to the Leduc canon and I felt robbed only getting a taste of them. There is also an interesting but mostly irrelevant side plot that I would have been much more invested in if I was more familiar with the characters involved.
Despite being a bit of a francophile with a decent background in the French language, I did find the author's habit of making Aimée so stereotypically French was painful for me at points. The references to Chanel, Lolita Lempicka, agnès b., and Hermès did seem a bit forced and and very non-essential. Just my silly complaint. Probably.
Long story short, if you like mysteries and thrillers and you've been looking for a decent female lead, this is a great choice for you. And if you like to travel via your books, this easy read will definitely transport you to Paris. Enjoy.