Sunday, December 15, 2013

Murder in Belleville: Cara Black


Cara Black's heroine in Murder in Belleville is very independent, plucky, and daring. The books are set in Paris, France; each takes place in a specific neighborhood. From other reviews, and blurbs on the back of the book, it appears she has done a good job of depicting Paris.

This story begins with a friend of a friend asking Aimée to investigate a woman that she thinks is her husband's lover. Quickly both of them have become involved in a car bombing and a much more dangerous group of people.

The theme behind the story is anti-immigrant racism and the innocent people who are caught up in these problems. I see and read about struggles with racism and immigration issues in the US every day, but it has been through mystery fiction that I have read about prejudice against immigrants in other countries throughout the world. I find this very interesting.


I liked the diverse cast of characters. Her partner, René Friant, a dwarf and a computer expert. Miles Davis, her dog, a Bichon Frise.

The woman who asks for Aimée's help is married to a minister in the government. She is self-centered and seems to be using Aimée at times. Her husband is not very likable either. It was hard to have empathy for these characters or understand why Aimee pursues the investigation. (Although it is clear that there are other factors at work.) Aimée considers whether to help this woman:
Computer security, Aimée had protested, was her field—not spousal surveillance.

The phone reception wavered and flared.

“Right now it’s difficult,” she said. “I’m working, Anaïs.”

She didn’t want to interrupt her work. Thanks to a client referral, she was dropping off a network systems security proposal at the Electricité de France. Aimée prayed that this would get Leduc Detective back on its feet after a lean winter.
We get to experience the situation through several characters mixed up in the threatened deportation of immigrants and a hunger strike staged to prevent the deportations. One is Bernard Berge, a director charged with implementing the deportations. The illegal immigrants are from Algeria; he also immigrated from Algeria when he was a child and his mother is pressuring him to step away from the issue and refuse to take part. His boss is demanding that he proceed.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. There is a lot of action and the story proceeds at a brisk pace. I will admit to some confusion in placing some of the characters, and the plot does get complex and dense. But the setting, the character development, and the interesting topics behind the stories will keep me reading this series.

Murder in Belleville is the second book in the series. I read the first book, about five years ago. However, I would say the author provides enough backstory in this book and it could stand alone.

Other reviews of this book: at Rose City Reader and at Kittling Books.

15 comments:

  1. Tracy, just this morning I read a newspaper report about how racism is alive in America. I think it might be providing fuel for both immigrant and anti-immigrant fiction. There have been some fine novels about the Indian diaspora in the US. I didn't know about Cara Black and her PI Aimée Léduc, so thanks for posting this review.

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    1. Prashant, there are now 13 books in the Aimée Léduc series, so it must have a lot going for it.

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  2. Tracy - I'm already drawn to the Paris setting. And whether we like it or not, racism is a sad fact of life in a lot of places. So I'm glad that Black confronts the topic here. Thanks for an excellent review.

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    1. Margot, The topic of racism and prejudice against immigrants does seem to come up in many books set in Europe. It should not surprise me but it always does.

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  3. I am hearing of this author for the first time. I'll see whether her books are available in the library. Thanks.

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    1. Neer, I hope you find some of the books in this series. They are worth trying.

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  4. I like the idea of this book but I just might reject it out of hand - seriously, the pet dog is called Miles Davis? My inner jazz buff is reeling :) Thanks for the great review.

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    1. Seriously, Sergio, the dog is called Miles Davis. I don't know much about jazz, myself, but I did recognize the reference.

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  5. This sounds interesting, but the last thing I need is a new series like this, so I might wait a bit before trying to find it.

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    1. Moira, Aimée does dress very nicely at times, but seems to always in black. Nothing wrong with that, I like black myself. I know how you feel, shying away from a new series.

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  6. I think I'll have to steer clear of this regretfully! I love the cover though.

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    1. Col, I love all the Soho covers in this style. And Soho has some great international mysteries that they publish. Some others are much more to your taste I am sure.

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    2. I think I'd like this book....it's just the other 12 I would want to buy on the back of it that would be the problem!

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  7. I've always been curious about her books because they go on sale sometimes. Good to know you enjoyed it, Tracy. Also good to know that it can standalone, too. Thanks.

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    1. Keishon, this series is a good one to try if they do go on sale.

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