Morte dans Paris Left Bank

Paris Left Bank


Destination: Paris

Book: Murder in the Latin Quarter(2009) by Cara Black

You can win this book by leaving a comment below (see end of post).

I often think of Alfred Hitchcok and the MacGuffin when I read a mystery.  To Hitchcok, the core of a mystery was the MacGuffin, a physical object that eludes the key characters and drives their frantic actions. “The papers”, “the key”, “the gun”, even the Holy Grail might be the MacGuffin. Once found, the characters believe the MacGuffin will answer all questions–in other words–solve the mystery–but it may be a false lead.

Cara Black‘s Murder in the Latin Quarter (located in Paris’ Left Bank) has the MacGuffina researcher’s report–but it has another x-factor that makes a murder mystery work.  Particularly in a series, the reader must love the main character.  The character must have enough quirks not to get boring.  He/she is ‘brighter than the average bear’ as Yogi the Bear said in those old cartoons. Flawed, but lovable like Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko. I’m also thinking of Sam Spade, Hercule Porot, Miss Marple, T.V.’s Adrian Monk–every one a character a traveler would choose to be shipwrecked with on a desert island. Well, maybe not Mr.  Monk, unless you had a lifetime supply of wipes along.

Reading Murder in the Latin Quarter made me think of  Cara Black‘s Parisian private eye, Aimèe as an interesting friend–a woman I’d call up to serve as my tour guide on my next trip to Paris Left Bank. She is definitely younger than I am and hipper than I ever was, but she would know where to go to get a good cup of coffee (with or without absinthe) and she has a friend with entree to the party scene in the tunnels below Paris. Her clothing choices alone qualify her for the position of BFF.  Who wouldn’t want to swap clothes with someone who knows how to score second hand Givenchy’s and glamorous shoes from designers who don’t descend to selling in America?

Latin Quarter side street
Latin Quarter side street

Having heard Cara Black speak when she visited the Tucson Festival of Books, I know how important accuracy is to her.  She shared one of her trade secrets–take a flic (cop) out for a beer.  They know everything about the streets of Paris. Each of the Aimèe Leduc mysteries is set in a different arrondissement of Paris, making them perfect for the reading traveler who likes to get off the worn tourist trail.

Because Aimèe could not possibly know everything about every neighborhood, she has a wide circle of friends to inform her–and us–about hidden corners and forgotten history.  One of those auxilliary characters works on the police force, where Aimèe’s father once worked.

Morher is the rumpled older detective who gets out of favor with authority–the character who plays the lead role in so many detective novels–here delegated to supporting cast.

Latin Quarter street, Paris

This particular volume, Murder in the Latin Quarter, almost lost me in its dense plot about Haiti and Haitian immigrants in Paris, dirty politics and voodoo, but Aimèe and the tour of the Latin Quarter on the Paris Left Bank kept me going.  No question, if I had read this before going to Paris, I would have made it a point to see some of the places Black describes.  It would make a great guide for a walk in the Latin Quarter.

In researching Cara Black, I found this wonderful International mystery writer’s blog to which she contributes along with other writers who set their mysteries in various countries. What a find!

Several people recommended Cara Black to me back when I was exploring French reading. Her latest book, just out is Murder in Passy.

Who’s YOUR favorite fictional detective–in books, movies or TV? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you in a drawing to receive this paperback mystery. (U.S. Resident and over 18, please)

All of these travel pictures were taken by and are the property of VMB or Ken Badertscher. If you would like to reprint something, please ask. vmb@

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

15 thoughts on “Morte dans Paris Left Bank

  1. You are quite welcome. I would love to know what you think if you read them. Be sure to read them in order! You can read some reviews on Amazon and can probably find the order there.

  2. The author is Jacqueline Winspear. They are set in England, post WWI with some flashbacks to the war. I haven’t read the most recent one but have enjoyed all of them.

  3. I love Maisie Dobbs and although not a detective, but a spy/assassin, I love the Daniel Silva novels.

    1. What a lovely complement. I think I’m influenced by the voice of the author I’m reviewing. Does that every happen to you?

  4. It used to be Nancy Drew of all people. I don’t read mystery novels as of late, but perhaps I should try them again to see if they pique more interest now.

  5. It is hard to choose one. I particularly like Miss Marple because no one expects her to be so sharp. But I remember enjoying Dagliesh (portrayed on PBS by Michael Gabon, sp?). Not sure if it is the actor that draws me as much to the character as the author’s portraiture. I wonder if Rumpole of the Bailey counts. Probably not. So even though, I am obviously attracted to the ones that have been rendered into “cinema” art, I think perhaps Poirot is my favorite – arrogant, quirky and sometimes fallible, traits you grow to like in a detective.

    1. Thanks, Shannon. I agree taking a flic out for a beer is a brilliant touch. Having heard her talk at a panel though, I can easily imagine her doing that. She seems fearless in her pursuit of information.

  6. My favorite literary detective is Carlotta Carlyle, a 6-foot-tall redhead who lives in Cambridge, MA, and drives a cab in Boston. Maybe she is beleivable because we have the same favorite dish at the same real restaurant, Mary Chung’s, whose soup Suan La Chow Show, is a favorite of both of us.

    1. Oh Susan–you’ve really captured my attention with that one. Since I’m going through Boston on my way to Nova Scotia later this summer, I’ll have to look this up. Maybe I can get it for my new Sony Reader, who knwos?

  7. Love the ‘whodunit’ books- Its hard to decide who my favorite would mystery writer or book would be. I did so love M.M.Kaye’s series of “Death in…” (which are great travel resources as well)…I’ve never read any of Black’s books- so maybe I should give one a try and see if I like it.

  8. My favorite detective of the moment, would be Precious Ramotswe of No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books. These books have inspired me to travel to Botswana, some day.
    Thank you for this great give away.

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