cover image Murder in Belleville-C

Murder in Belleville-C

Cara Black. Soho Press, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-211-8

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. (Oct.)