Author: Cara Black
Series: Aimée Leduc, book 1
Review: I generally buy books online based on reviews I read and friends' recommendations. However, I also enjoy browsing in the book stores and this is one of the books that randomly caught my attention. I've never heard of the author before, I've never seen any reviews for the series. I just picked it up on a whim and proceeded to read it.
Murder in the Marais is the first book in a series about a Parisian tech investigator, Aimée Leduc. Aimée specializes in cracking encryption and other tech-type investigations; however, in this case she gets involved in something much bigger. It all starts with a rabbi hiring her to decode an encrypted photo and leads to Aimée discovering a body when she delivers the results and the subsequent investigation of the murder.
The book is set in late 90's Paris and the interesting part is that many of the events relevant to the murder happened during the WWII. Neo-nazis, war criminals, collaborators, and survivors are all part of the plot. I liked how the author tied the past to the present and the plot itself is well-written with a nice twist at the end of the story. I stayed up late to figure out whodunnit and generally enjoyed the ride.
While I enjoyed the story, I did not like the characters as much as I expected. Generally speaking, I like strong female protagonists in books. However, I did not really connect to Aimée, nor to her partner (who played a rather small role in the overall story). I don't even know why -- on paper, she is the sort of character I should like. She is smart, tough, strong-willed, with realistic failings and insecurities. But something about her just didn't click for me. It's not that I disliked her, but rather I felt more apathetic to her plight than I should have.
Perhaps that was a function of the author's writing style. I generally thought the writing was a bit rough around the edges and probably the weaker part of this book. I would consider picking up the next book in the series based on the plot strength, but I am not rushing to the book store. Overall, it's a solid murder mystery with an interesting background, but it comes a bit short in characterization and writing.