Murder in the Marais (Aimee Leduc Series #1)

Murder in the Marais (Aimee Leduc Series #1)

by Cara Black


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Meet Aimée Leduc, the smart, stylish Parisian private investigator, in her bestselling first investigation

Aimée Leduc has always sworn she would stick to tech investigation—no criminal cases for her. Especially since her father, the late police detective, was killed in the line of duty. But when an elderly Jewish man approaches Aimée with a top-secret decoding job on behalf of a woman in his synagogue, Aimée unwittingly takes on more than she is expecting. She drops off her findings at her client’s house in the Marais, Paris’s historic Jewish quarter, and finds the woman strangled, a swastika carved on her forehead. With the help of her partner, René, Aimée sets out to solve this horrendous murder, but finds herself in an increasingly dangerous web of ancient secrets and buried war crimes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781569479995
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Series: Aimée Leduc Series , #1
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Cara Black is the author of sixteen book in the New York Times bestselling Aimée Leduc series, all of which are available from Soho Crime. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son and visits Paris frequently.

Read an Excerpt

Aimée Leduc felt his presence before she saw him. As if ghosts floated in his wake in the once elegant hall. She paused, pulling her black leather jacket closer against the Parisian winter morning slicing through her building, and reached for her keys. The man emerged from the shadows by her frosted paned office door. A baby’s cry wafted up from the floor below, then the concierge’s door slammed.
     “Mademoiselle, I need your help,” he said. Leathery, freckled skin stretched over his skull and his ears pointed out at right angles. He wore a crumpled navy blue suit and leaned crookedly on a malacca cane.
    “No missing persons, Monsieur,” she said. As winter settled, the days gray and the memories vivid, old survivors revived hopes of lost ones. She slid her tongue across her teeth to check for anything stuck, smoothed her short brown hair and smiled. She stuffed the chocolate croissant back in the bag. “I don’t find lost relatives. My field is corporate security.” Thirty-four years old, Aimée, at five feet eight inches, loomed above him. “Je suis désolée, Monsieur, but computer forensics are my speciality.”
    “That’s what I want.” He straightened his posture slowly, his large eyes fearful. “My name is Soli Hecht. I must talk with you.”
    Behind his fear she saw sadness tinged by keen perception. She tried to be polite. Walk-in clients were rare. Most came through corporate connections or by word of mouth. “It’s not that I don’t want your business, but we’re carrying a full caseload. I can refer you to someone very good.”
    “I knew your father, an honorable man. He told me to come to you if I needed help.”
    Startled, she dropped her keys and looked away. “But my father was killed five years ago.”
    “As always, he is in my prayers.” Hecht bowed his head. When he looked up, his eyes bored into hers. “Your father and I met when he was in Le Commissariat.”
    She knew she had to hear him out. Still she hesitated. The cold seeped from the floorboards but it wasn’t the only thing making her shiver.
    “Please come inside.”
    She unlocked the door that read Leduc Detective that led to the office she’d taken over after her father’s death, flipped on the lights, and draped her jacket over her armchair. Nineteenth-century sepia prints of Egyptian excavations hung on the walls above digitally enhanced Parisian sewer maps.
    Hecht moved his cadaverous frame across the parquet floor. Something about him struck her as familiar. As he lifted his arm onto her desk, she saw faint blue numbers tattooed on his forearm peeking out from his jacket sleeve. Did he want her to find Nazi loot in numbered Swiss bank accounts? She scooped ground coffee into the filter, poured water, and switched on the espresso machine, which grumbled to life.
    “Specifically, Monsieur Hecht, what is the job?”
    “Computer penetration is your field.” His eyes scanned the equipment lining the walls. He thrust a folder at her. “Decipher this computer code. The Temple Emanuel is hiring you.”
    “We need proof that a woman’s relatives avoided deportation to Buchenwald. But I don’t want to raise her hopes.” He looked away, as if there was more he could say, but didn’t.
    “I’ve stopped doing that kind of work, Monsieur Hecht. That was more my father’s field. To be honest, if I kept his promise you’d get less than the best.”
    “I knew your father, I trusted him.” Hecht gripped the edge of her desk.
    “How did you know him?”
    “A man of honor, he told me I could rely on you.” Soli Hecht hung his head. “We had many dealings before the explosion. I need your expertise.”
    She drummed her chipped red nails on her desk and pushed the painful memories aside. Steaming muddy liquid dripped into the waiting demitasse cup. “Monsieur, un petit café?”
    “Non, merci.” He shook his head.
    Aimée unwrapped a sugar cube and plopped it in her cup. “I do computer security,” she repeated. “Not missing persons.”
    “He said you would help me . . . that I could always come to you.” Short of going back on her father’s word, one path remained.
    “D’accord,” she relented with inner misgivings. “I’ll show you my standard contract form.”
    “My word must be enough.” He extended his hand. “As far as you are concerned, you don’t know me. Agreed?”
    She shook his gnarled hand.
    “This will take several days? I was told it could be slow work.”
    “Maybe a few hours. I type one hundred and twenty conventional words a minute.”
    She smiled and sat down, shoved last night’s faxes to the side of her desk, and leaned towards him.
    “You were in school in America when I knew your father.”
    Full of hope, she’d searched for her American roots and the mother who’d disappeared when she was eight. She hadn’t found either. “Briefly. I was an exchange student in New York.”
    “Your father articulated his casework philosophy to me and I’ve always remembered it.”
    “Things weren’t usually what they seemed or he’d be out of business?”
    Hecht nodded. “You’re independent, no ties or affiliations to anyone.” His crooked fist drummed the table. “I like that about you.”
    He knew a lot about her. She also had the distinct impression he was leaving something out. “Our fees are seven hundred and fifty francs a day.”
    Hecht nodded dismissively. Now she remembered. She’d seen his photo years ago when his evidence helped bring Klaus Barbie to trial.
    “Look inside the folder,” Hecht said.
    Aimée opened his file, noticing the digits and slash marks, a distinctive trademark of Israeli military encryption. Her expertise was in hacking into systems, huge corporate ones. But this code spoke of the Cold War—a slippery tunneling job. She hesitated.
    “Two thousand francs are in the folder. Deliver your results to 64 rue des Rosiers to Lili Stein. She’s home after her shop closes. I’ve told her to expect a visitor.”
    Aimée felt she had to be honest; breaking an encrypted code had never taken her that long. “You’ve given me too much.”
    He shook his head. “Take it. She has a hard time getting around. Remember, give this only to Lili Stein.”
    She shrugged. “No problem.”
    “You must put this in Lili Stein’s hands.” Hecht’s tone had changed, from fervent to pleading. “Swear to me on your father’s grave. On his honor.” His eyes locked on to hers.
    What kind of Holocaust secret was this? Slowly she nodded in agreement.
    “We will have no more contact, Mademoiselle.”
    Soli Hecht’s joints cracked as he rose. His face wrinkled in pain.
    “You could have faxed me this query, Monsieur Hecht. It would have saved you this trip.”
    “But we’ve neither talked nor met, Mademoiselle Leduc,” he said.
    Aimée bit back her reply and opened the door for him. Warped floorboards, a tarnished mirror, and scuffed plaster adorned the unheated landing. She buzzed for the turn-of-the-century wire elevator grating noisily up the shaft. Slowly and painfully he made his way to the hall.
    Back in her office, she stuffed the francs into her pocket. The overdue France Télécom bill and horse meat for Miles Davis—pronounced Meels Daveez, her bichon frise—would wait until she’d done the promised work.
    Eurocom, the cable giant, had royally screwed up her finances by breaking Leduc’s security service contract and hiring a rival Seattle firm, the only other firm that did the same work as she and her partner. She hoped there’d be enough money left to spring her suits from the dry cleaner’s.
    Her standard software keys enabled her to crack coded encryptions. They opened information stored in a database, in this case, she figured, a military one.
    After punching in her standard key, “Access denied” flashed on the screen. She tried another software key, Réseau Militaire, an obscure military network. Still the screen flashed “Access denied.” Intrigued, she tried various other keys but got nowhere.
    Morning turned into afternoon, shadows lengthened, and dusk settled.
    After several hours she realized she would earn her francs on this one. So far, nothing worked.

Table of Contents

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Murder in the Marais (Aimee Leduc Series #1) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was positively gripping. It also made me feel I was walking with Aimee. As I've spent a lot of time exploring the 4th and the 1st, it brought it all back, down to the smell. I didn't even mind that computers were doing a lot of the work, and I generally dislike high tech mysteries. That the Occupation lives was brought into sharp focus. The Fascist movement in France linked to what went on during the War provides enormous tension and kept me reading. 'I couldn't put it down,' an overworked but appropriate statement. The narrative and descriptive elements in the book made me put aside my additional dislikes of 4th Reich plotters and the gratuitous use of politically correct characters, the handicapped, etc. There was enough of interest here without them. Real Paris in real France fascinates.
obxtea More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was just so-so. Aimee Leduc is one those characters that is just to formulated to be believable. She's pretty, clever, tough, etc. - all the usual things they think you want a character to be. The plot was fairly interesting but I don't plan to read any others in this series.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In November 1993 Paris, elderly Nazi Hunter Soli Hecht invokes his friendship with her dead father in appealing to computer forensic expert Aimee Leduc for her help. Reluctantly, she agrees to decipher the encrypted code that gives the appearance of the Cold War and to deliver the results into the hands of Lili Stein only.

After quite a difficult time, Aimee breaks the code revealing an old World War II black and white photograph without any accompanying text. She heads to the Jewish section of Paris, Marais, to deliver her results to Lili. However, placing the photo in Lili¿s hand makes no sense any longer, as Aimee finds the body of the murdered elderly Jewish woman. Aimee is found at the scene and quickly concludes she might have problems as honor in the name of her father refuses to allow her to reveal her alibi to Inspector Morbier. Outside of her expertise, Aimee begins investigating the homicide on her own to clear her name.

This reviewer actually read the superb MURDER IN BELLEVILLE book (second Leduc novel), which led to reading the debut Leduc tale, MURDER IN THE MARAIS. This novel is excellent, extremely complex, and filled with action and tension. The story line links historical hatred to 1993 prejudices in a frightfully realistic depiction that counterbalances the image of Gay Paree with that of the ethnic bleakness of the World War II era and of the early nineties through a great private sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
The first and the best of the Aimee LeDuc series. Readers are introduced to Aimee, a French medical school dropout who owns a cyber detective agency. Aimee is the daughter of a former police officer in Paris and has many 'connections' to the interworkings of the Paris police. This is certainly not literature, but is a fun romp through Paris and the Marais.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mystery in Paris; what could be better? Well, perhaps a well written story, excellent research, and fascinating characters. Guess what, this book has them all. Highly recommended, and her 2nd, Murder in Belleville is as good or better!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like to rread about other countries so this was good. Alittle slow moving,but i enjoyed it. A lot of twists and turns and it kept me guessing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book might get a C in a sophmore creative writing class. It was full of cliches, obvious moments, and was generally dull.
MaryLynnNC More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed my introduction to Aimee Leduc and her life as an investigator in Paris. Just as interesting as Aimee is the city of Paris. Just as New York is a character in the Sex and the City series, Paris lives and breathes as much as Aimee does. I didn't feel like the characters of the villains were as developed as they could have been, but then again, it could just be that they weren't very sympathetic to begin with. I will definitely read the next in her series as soon as it is Nook-available!
louisianawriter More than 1 year ago
Although a little over the top in stunt scenes, this book is a page turner well worth the read. Ms. Black's knowledge of the time period and of human weaknesses takes her reader from the stone streets of Paris to her gargoyled rooftops. 'Murder' is not heavy prose at any means, but book clubs will find much to discuss from history to food to independent women. Amy Leduc takes a rightful place in the long list of foreign detectives who show the everyday life and customs of their cities. The reader finishes filled with the sounds, smells and tastes of a faraway place. I look forward to reading #2.
Katsan More than 1 year ago
A little slow at first, but sped up towards the end. Wouldn't spend a lot on it. Not sure I will read any more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book when it was the deal of the day. The plot is relatively good for a murder mystery, and I like how she ties together a 50 year old murder with 2 modern ones, but I felt like the book drags after a while. I was having trouble keeping interested. I like murder mysteries, but I think this will be the only Cara Black book I read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
edge of your seat reading, great story learned things i never knew about ww2 europe . wonderful book will be looking for more books by ms black.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cara Black's books are not just vintage mystery novels, but they are also about issues with other cultures that exist in France. I feel her books are destined to become classics, because they are, not only, great mystery novels, but they delve into France's history. You'll love her quirky characters & the predicaments they get themselves in to, while you also get to taste the under belly of France. As long as Cara Black is writing, I will be reading ALL OF HER BOOKS!!! They are funny, interesting & they bring all the flavors of France out to savor upon. Her characters will come alive to the readers, & you will never forget them. Happy reading everyone! ;)
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Murder in the Marais is the first book in the Aimee Leduc series. Each of the books in this series is set in a different neighborhood in Paris. Marais is the historic Jewish quarter of Paris, and this mystery is linked to events that occurred during World War II. Overall, I enjoyed this book and the history that is woven into the plot. However, there are flaws. The plot is complex and at times, I had trouble keeping the various threads straight. Aimee Leduc is a struggling private detective who may grow on me, but she wasn't a stand-out character is this first book. However, I liked Murder in the Marais enough that I will try another book in this series.
etxgardener on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Paris and I love mysteries, so why is it that I cannot find an intelligent series of mysteries set in the City of Light? I did have high hopes for this book, but I found that the author must have been overly influenced by modern action movies as the book is long on violent action scenes and short on a coherent plot or any kind of character development.The story, such as it is, jumps about in fits and starts from one character's perspective to another as well as traveling from the present back to the 1940's. It is, quite frankly a mess.Seeing as in my enthusiasm, I have purchased a second volume in this series, I will be giving it another chance. However, if the writing doesn't improve, it will be two strikes and you're out for this particular series for books.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was interested in this book because of the setting in Paris. I like a well done, out of the everyday (for me) setting. Then my RL Mystery Group picked this series.I wanted to like this, and mostly did, though there are some flaws. The story is of a half French, half American woman, Aimee Leduc, who is a private investigator in Paris, where she lives. She is connected to the business through her father who was a police officer and then went private. She focuses on the computer aspect of investigating. Her father was killed on a case and she has been running shy of field work ever since, though she inherited their detective agency. The story is set 1993. Aimee has issues with her past and a mystery surrounding her mother.This story focuses on the Marais, the old Jewish quarter in Paris. It has to do with war crimes from WWII, when Jews were deported, and with those who collaborated, survived and have tried to hide their identities and crimes. There is also a tie in to modern times with a Neo-Nazi organization, and the EU trying to come to terms with the influx of immigrants looking for a better life. The setting is not too long after the Iron Curtain came down. In an echo of the past, some of the EU ministers and their countries think deportation and camps are a solution. There is also a secret modern day Nazi organization pulling the strings to keep up the persecution of the Jews, and bring laws into place that reflect their attitudes towards those they consider inferior.The writing is not bad, and the story flows, though it seems to drag, because the pace is too slow. We spend a lot of time following Amiee around as she goes from office to police station to home and back around again. We watch as she eats and changes clothes, but its too long for too little that happens to advance the story. Her visits with the suspects and witnesses are little better.She has a pet, and we know its name, but I don't think she ever tells what it is. It eventually barks so we know its a dog, but not what kind. She has a partner, a dwarf, but we know almost nothing about him, and he only appears when she needs his help. A cousin pops up at the end as needed. At one point Aimee is being hunted and thinks so little of wandering the city, with no place to go, that she schedules a hair appointment. There is a lack of depth, and reality to the story.The descriptions are hard to follow in terms of settings and events, so you have all the ingredients, but can't put them into a picture to match what Black is saying.There are lot of characters, without much development, and many plot threads. Its hard to keep them all straight.Finally Aimee seems to be unrealistic in terms of action. She seems to be more of a superhero rather than a real person: climbing over slate roofs in her high heels is just part of the silliness.Overall, I hope these problems are newbie issues and can be worked out, I think there is enough there, to hold on until she improves. I have other books in the series and will read them.
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in Black's series starring Paris PI Aimee Leduc, and I really enjoyed it. The plot is very action packed, dramatic, and not more than a little ridiculous, but the effects of World War II on the Jewish population of Paris, the Gentile residents, and even the Nazi invaders are well drawn. Aimee is a strong, smart heroine, with more than a few flaws, and the city of Paris is described lovingly. I will definitely be reading the next in the series (Murder in Belleville). Heck, I've already bought it. Four stars.
Capfox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Writing a good mystery is harder than it looks, and I want to put as a case in point this book here. I think from a synopsis of the story - spunky woman detective and offbeat partner work to solve a murder case with strong ties both to World War II France and both neo- and classical Nazi organizations - sounds like a pretty strong frame to start on to me. And the setting of a Paris that's not the one we usually see is quite strong, too. The atmosphere of the city comes through quite nicely.However... the writing, while good particularly for the characters who are connected to the older, WWII part of the plot, is not as strong for some of the more recent characters, and particularly for the lead one. I didn't really find Aimee great, and a lot of the descriptions of her actions didn't really gel for me. Other secondary characters - let me advance Herve in particular - seemed very weak and one-dimensional to me. There's also a lot of wild plot twisting going on that I don't find totally buyable, but I suppose it is exciting enough.For me, though, I found the most frustrating thing the editing. There's a couple of mistakes that gave away the ending to me, and could not have been intended by the author. I won't quote them, because even in a review that'd be really spoiler-y, but it ruined a mystery I'm not entirely sure I would have gotten otherwise. So, negative points for professionalism there.There are enough positives that I can see how someone helping the writer smooth things out and tighten things up could lead to stronger books, but I'm not sure I'd personally be around to try them. This is most recommended for people who really like Paris, I think, and hardcore mystery fans, but otherwise, I'd probably give it a miss.
kambrogi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cara Black¿s mystery series is set in different arrondissements (districts) of the city of Paris. In this volume, she has used her knowledge of the Marais, the old Jewish neighborhood, to good advantage. The contemporary murder is motivated by events that occurred during WWII and the occupation. Young Aimée Leduc, a French-American detective, follows in the footsteps of her deceased detective father, adding her own particular skill in computer forensics. This is great idea for a series, and anyone who knows Paris will appreciate the spot-on references to the city and its inhabitants. Alas, the character development and the line-level writing, along with insufficient detail to drive the story home, left me rather unsatisfied with the reading experience. It¿s a bit thin for my taste.
firedog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first introduction to Cara Black. Following Aimee Leduc through Paris neighborhoods and history. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.
michaelm42071 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aimée Leduc is spike-haired, with jeans, leather jacket and boots. She is the daughter of a flic, a Parisian policeman, and his American wife who bolted when Aimée was eight years old¿we don¿t know why, but I suspect someone corrected her French pronunciation one time too many. Aimée has a sidekick named René who is a computer wizard, and together they run a quiet little agency in the Rue de Louvre, specializing in computer security. Aimée does a small computer-hacking job for a client in the Marais quarter of Paris, but when she finds her client shot dead with a swastika carved in her forehead, Aimée suddenly becomes a murder investigator. The Marais is historically the Jewish quarter of Paris, between the Place de la Bastille and what is now the Centre Georges Pompidou. This quarter and the Rue de Louvre where she has her office and the Ile St. Louis where Aimée has inherited an apartment from her grandfather all form the backdrop for this mystery, which has its beginnings in Nazi-occupied Paris, but is very much about the city and its people in the nineties. This book shows us Paris from the rooftops to the catacombs and the sewers. Aimée Leduc¿s creator, Cara Black, is not French but American, but this sort of cultural appropriation is common in detective fiction, where you will find a French detective created by a Belgian, a Belgian detective created by an Englishwoman, and English, Irish, and Italian detectives all created by Americans. And of course, the original fictional detective was also a Parisian created by the American Edgar Allan Poe.What we have in Aimée Leduc is a detective very much in the hard-boiled school, with a French twist. She is resourceful with costumes, wigs, and the quick lie. She¿s tough and resilient. She survives jumping out of a moving car to escape the Neo-Nazi hate group she¿d infiltrated, and she¿s also knocked off her moped and nearly murdered by hit men. She¿s as handy with a gun as with a computer. If you like Sara Paretsky¿s V. I. Warshawski and have a soft spot for the City of Lights, Aimée Leduc is probably your demitasse.Murder in the Marais is the first of five mysteries Cara Black has written about this character. The first three have been optioned by a Dublin production company, but so far I¿ve heard of no TV or movie feature that has resulted. All of the books deal with particular quarters that Black calls ¿funky . . . gritty, off-the-beaten-tourist track Paris¿¿Belleville, the Sentier, the Bastille, and Clichy, as well as the Marais¿and all feature Aimée Leduc.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What's fun with Aimée Leduc is that not only is she spunky and clever, she's also fallible. Contrarily to so many sleuths, she makes mistakes and sometimes leaves bodies in her wake. This makes her human, without making her a bumbling idiot or a super detective.This backdrop of WWII showing the horrific side of the Nazis and the après-guerre makes the modern murders even more potent and gripping.Aimée is a true Parisian despite her half-American heritage, which makes her interesting and adds to her dimension. Too bad Black's publisher doesn't believe in splurging for a bilingual editor - the French sure could use some cleaning up.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
When Aimee Leduc takes a decoded picture to a client in the Jewish quarter of Paris, she finds the woman dead and things quickly unravel from there. Honestly, I found the book too busy, which left not enough time to wrap everything up in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After seeing a recommendation for Cara Black's latest book in her Aimee Leduc series, and being a Francophile, I decided to read the first in the series, Murder in the Marais. While the plot line is engaging and the character development decent, I found the writing absolutely horrible. The dialog is often unrealistic, the sequence of events disjointed and hard to follow at times, and the scene portrayals often simply not believable. All-in-all the book is not unreadable but I find myself becoming frustrated after a couple of chapters and have to put it aside for a bit. I am going to try a book from later in the series before giving up completely on this author. It almost has to be better than this one.
The_reading_wolf More than 1 year ago
The synopsis Aimee Leduc is a stylish Parisian private investigator. After the late police detectives death (whom is her father) passes away, Aimee takes on a large case. A Jewish man approaches Aimee on behalf of a woman in his synagogue and requests her to solve this decoding case. It's when Aimee goes to deliver her findings that she discovers the woman dead, and with a swastika carved on her forehead. Aimee is instantly thrown into a web of ancient secrets and war crimes. Will she and her partner Rene solve the case? Read the book to find out. The review First off I would like to point out the few small things I liked about this book. I did like the basic plot concept of this book. While I think the nature of the idea was great, the execution was liking. However kudos for the basic idea. Secondly there were some characters I did thoroughly enjoy. The book started out good but lacked in the second half. Unfortunately there was so much i disliked in this book. One being the use of the french language. As someone who has studied only basic french I found many, many errors in spelling and punctuation. Secondly some of the name pronunciations, such as her dog Miles Davis. She tells people is 'Meelz Davees'. I'm with the vast majority in this opinion where it was just cringe inducing. Another thing was some the character comparisons. They were almost racist feeling. One of them being the author comparing a thin Jewish man to looking like a concentration camp survivor from old news reels. This just felt so very wrong to me as well as other reviewers from what I've seen. Also another problem was the unrealistic plot elements. One being her running across Paris and even rooftops in heels. From what I've seen though, the authors writing does improve so I will give book two a chance. 3 stars from me. Thanks NetGalley for sending me this book in exchange for my honest review.