I may be late to the party, but I just discovered Cara Black through her new release, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, the twelfth novel in her series featuring computer consultant/detective Aimee Leduc and able assistant, René.
When Rene’s new girlfriend, Meizi, disappears during dinner, Aimee and René are thrust into the intricacies of Paris’s oldest Chinatown district, but that’s just for starters. This breakneck-paced novel sends Aimee careening toward garment district sweatshops, ancient towers, mystical rituals, and medieval alchemical formulae. Aimee is clever and resourceful; thank goodness, because Black throws her into one crisis after another, any one of which would wither a more delicate flower. This isn’t Woody Allen’s Paris by any means, but Black’s sense of detail is so sharp and true that you know she’s letting the reader into a slice of Paris more real than the gauzy lambent bank of the Seine where Owen Wilson furrows his troubled brow.
Aimee’s personal story is equally compelling and, while I haven’t read the earlier books in the series, I had no trouble discerning that Aimee has been in terrible trouble in the past, and has trouble in her future. She comes closer in this novel to finding out about her mother’s dark past, just close enough to make this reader impatient to find out what will happen in Ms. Black’s next book. And fans of René’s (I’m sure there are many) will ache along with him as he tries to determine the fate of his missing Meizi.