It’s always fun to read something set in an exotic location you’ve visited or are about to. Murder in the Bastille takes place, obviously, in Paris, and following the characters around their Cite haunts revived memories of good times there and good times to come. Cara Black has apparently made some hay with her Aimee LeDuc character, a woman who runs a detective agency and has a dwarf for a partner. The fact that Black lives in San Francisco and (as far as I can tell) writes in English doesn’t detract from the romance of the situation. I’m sure she gets a lot of tax-deductible travel to France to support her work. More power to her.
I wish I could say as much for the book itself. In this, the fourth in the LeDuc series,
Aimee is struck blind by an attacker (mistaken identity) who is thought to be a serial killer. Thus, she must conduct her investigation in the dark with the help of her faithful sidekick. It’s an odd and interesting situation, but underneath the quirkiness of it, there’s little substance. The characters are skin-deep, the mysteries not so mysterious. and the climatic scene is without verisimilitude as the perp knocks LeDuc out, but doesn’t bother to tie her up even after she regains consciousness and starts thrashing about and forming a plan to take him out with a devilish scheme no self-respecting adversary would allow to develop.
Still, there are a couple of neat French expressions I picked up. Gauche (as in left-bank) Caviar for the French equivalent of “Limousine Liberal.” Things like that and the Parisian milieu It keep me from having the little man at the bottom here falling asleep in his chair instead of merely sitting up.