Murder in the Marais: a murder mystery in Paris that is so much more than just that

Murder in the Marais book review

What is this about?: Aimee Leduc s a private investigator in Paris. She is asked by a Rabbi to investigate an old photograph and to present the results to Lili Stein, a old Jewish woman who lives in the Marais. Instead, Aimee finds herself investigating something bigger and more sinister, involving unmasking the identity of a collaborator from World War 2, who destroyed lives and families.

What else is this about?: For a book set in 1999, there are sentiments here that still resonate: like a treaty that nations in the book are due to sign that essentially put immigrants in concentration camps, that the death camps were just fake news. Sound familiar?

Blurb

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.

Stars: 3.5/5

When I realised that the 18th book in this series was out soon, I knew I had to get started on this series now before it became an incredibly intimidating series, I couldn’t fathom getting into.

For a book written in 1999, Murder in the Marais wasn’t as dated as I thought it would be — yes, there are sentiments expressed that I could have done without, and a female investigator need not have a romantic interest for no reason. She doesn’t need to find sexy pumps to wear either.

But, at it’s core, this book had plenty to keep me hooked. 

Party like it’s 1999

Cara Black takes readers and Aimee straight into the thick of the story straightaway with Aimee enlisted to find the truth of a photo for a Lili Stein, a Jewish woman. Aimee now works in corporate and cyber security after losing her father in a bomb blast previously. She came out of that with burns to her hands and lost her father.

She is convinced to take the case when the Rabbi invokes her father’s name, and the next thing she knows she’s finding  Lili Stein dead in her apartment, a swastika carved into her head like people did for collaborators with the Nazis after the war. 

From then on, Aimee starts to investigate Lili’s death, and finds herself embroiled in a mystery that goes back to the war.

We are also introduced to Aimee’s partner Rene, and a host of secondary characters. I didn’t think they were all necessary, especially a romantic interlude with an Aryan supremacist who suddenly turns out to be not an Aryan supremacist, but we never hear from him again. 

Nazis and fake news 

Alongside her investigation, Black brings in the broader political happenings of the time — and some unexpected bits of history. There is a treaty that is about to be signed in France, one with various European nations that will result in immigrants basically being treated like criminals, or close to how Jewish prisoners were during the war.

Here we are introduced to Hartmuth a politician and former German war veteran who finds himself beholden to his Nazi masters, who have infiltrated European politics. He is about to wash his hands of it all and do what they want when he finds himself face-to-face with Sarah, the Jewish girl he loved and tried to help during the war — a Sarah whose friend was Lili Stein. 

This book is delves into Antisemitism in France, and just old-fashioned racism. It’s ugly and brutal, and worst are those characters that insist the death camps were fake news, a cornerstone of their effort to defend the Nazis. Seriously, sound familiar? I was amazed at how familiar sentiments still are currently, though now aimed at Muslims and refugees. 

Some days I think humanity will never learn.

The book doesn’t hold back with the ugliness of it all and I appreciated that — and wondered what it must have been like in France at the time the EU was being formed.

Aimee’s case runs parallel to these political happenings, before Black ties them together and shows the true extent of her excellent plotting.

I picked this book up for obvious reasons — PARIS + Mystery — and found myself utterly engrossed to the point that I forgot to focus on the Paris of it all — Black evokes a wonderful sense of place and the city in this.

By the end of the book I realised Aimee didn’t need to accidentally find sexy pumps to escape the people pursuing her, but that’s who Aimee is — she’s quick-witted, determined and intelligent, and she just happens to look good in pumps. Whether it’s 1999 or 2018. 

17 Comments

  • sounds good Veruska, glad you enjoyed it. ☺

  • It’s interesting that this book can still be relevant today – sadly, history does repeat itself. I’m glad you liked this for the most part though. Seems like an intriguing mystery!

    -lauren

    • Verushka says:

      What’s sadder, is that humanity doesn’t learn from its past mistakes. We just keep doing the same damn thing.

  • Angela says:

    18 books? Wow, that’s a big series! But I do like the Paris setting and the mystery sounds intense and yeah, timely.

    • Verushka says:

      It’s been going on for ages! Normally I wouldn’t have given a series 18 books long a second look, but Paris + mystery = me hooked!

  • Jen Mullen says:

    I’ve read two or three books by Cara Black and enjoyed them. Look forward to this one. 🙂

  • Whew, you’re right, this book seems strangely prescient and timely. How terribly depressing is that? Aimee sounds like my kind of gal — getting stuff done as needed, and in great shoes! An 18 book series is pretty intimidating though.

    • Verushka says:

      It’s very depressing in that respect — we never seem to learn, do we? Heh, I got to appreciate her sense of fashion in this!

  • This story sounds pretty intriguing. I like that it doesn’t hold back with the ugliness. I feel like more books should be like that even if it’s tough.

    • Verushka says:

      I was surprised too at how ugly it did get, and then I began to appreciate that the author didn’t hold back — we’ve been through this before back then, and we’re still going through it.

  • Wow, the 18th book in the series coming out soon! That’s definitely a lot to get through. We’re glad you enjoyed the book, and it’s good the book doesn’t hold back with the ugliness. A book that resonates with today is a book we always want to look into.

    ~ Luna & Saturn @ Pendragons

    • Verushka says:

      It is definitely a lot, and normall I’d be incredibly intimidating, but I took the plunge because it was a mystery and Paris, and I have to say, totally worth it!

  • Kelly says:

    Sadly, the narrative really hasn’t dated at all with the atrocities that are going on in the US, prison camps, racial profiling and separation of families. Eighteen books is such a massive series to commit to, do you know if they can also be read as standalones once you’re introduced to the reoccurring characters? I’m a sucker for anything set within Paris, especially when authors use the dialect and references to the Parisian streets of artists. I’m really interested to see what you think of the next few books within the series and where the author takes it. Brilliant review Verushka darling, so glad you enjoyed it ♡♡♡

    • Verushka says:

      Oh yes, the author uses the dialect and it’s crystal clear how well she knows the city, which made it all the more impressive. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it when I recognised the things she was writing about 🙂 It was startling to see the similarities between then and the EU and things now. I was genuinely surprised at how humanity hasn’t really changed since then.

  • Daniela Ark says:

    wow concentration camps, fake news. yup terribly familiar! I just finished Small Country about the Rwandan Genocide. OMG. What an intriguing premise. And Paris and mystery. Winner! N wonder you were so engrossed. AND THAT COVER! OMG!

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