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Murder in Bel-Air

Review

Murder in Bel-Air

What happens when an author starts envying her fictional creation? That is the question I propose as we embark with Cara Black on her 19th journey with the wonderful half-French/half-American private detective from Paris, Aimée Leduc.

Black, who travels from her home in San Francisco to visit Paris several times a year, comments on how envious she is of Aimée’s apartment on the Île Saint-Louis, and goes on to speak about her own mother. This is quite prophetic as MURDER IN BEL-AIR centers itself firmly on Aimée's mother, Sydney, and her dark past as a spy for the CIA. Sydney remains on Interpol's most wanted list, but swears to Aimee that she has left that life behind and wants to be a part of her granddaughter Chloe's life. That is why it is so against type when Aimée, who is about to deliver the keynote speech at a conference, is pulled away prior to her presentation to take an emergency phone call.

"MURDER IN BEL-AIR may be the best entry yet in this stellar series, and that is really saying something."

The call could be every parent's worst nightmare. In this case, it has an unexpected twist. Aimée is contacted by the elite playgroup that Chloe is a part of. However, the issue is not with her daughter but with her mother, who simply vanished when she was supposed to be watching Chloe. Aimée leaves her event and heads across town to pick up Chloe. Upon arrival, the most she can get out of the abrupt playgroup owner is that her mother left a cryptic note on a chair and disappeared without a word.

Aimée, who is no slouch when it comes to the art of detecting and has a small but highly skilled team supporting her, must set out on the most intensely personal case of her career --- the search for her mother. It is no surprise when the brutal murder of a young homeless woman is tied to Sydney. The nun who runs the soup kitchen where the murdered woman, Genelle Tournon, frequented confessed to Aimée that her mother was quite close with Genelle and was seen with her often. What Aimée needs to figure out is why her rogue CIA-operative mother was spending time with a homeless woman who was killed for apparently no obvious reason.

Aimee's search eventually lands her in front of an operative group calling themselves the DGSE.  They admit to knowing information about Sydney that would greatly help Aimée but are not willing to give that up unless she helps them find a missing man who had been under their protection, known by the code name GBH. Aimée, being very good at her job, locates GBH, or Gerard Bjedje Hlili, but he does not agree to come with her and promptly goes underground once again. The only information she does get is that her mother is in great danger and possibly being held by someone. But who?

Cara Black ratchets up the tension, chapter by chapter, as Aimée runs around Paris in circles in search of some clue to the location of her missing mother. Things get so bad that at one point she is nearly despondent. Her godfather is not returning her calls, the DGSE has seemingly disappeared along with GBH, and a dangerous killer known as the Crocodile is still on the loose.

MURDER IN BEL-AIR may be the best entry yet in this stellar series, and that is really saying something. It remains one of the best murder-mystery series set in a foreign country on the market, and each installment is always required reading on my ever-growing TBR pile. Will Aimée save the day and her mysterious mother in the process? You'll just have to dive into this Parisian treat of a thriller and find out for yourself.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 7, 2019

Murder in Bel-Air
by Cara Black

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime
  • ISBN-10: 1616959290
  • ISBN-13: 9781616959296