Book Review: Murder Below Montparnasse

Posted February 22nd, 2013 by in book review / 0 comments


Title: Murder Below Montparnasse (Aimee Leduc Investigations #13)
Author: Cara Black
Publisher: Soho Crime
Version Read: ebook ARC
Publication Date: March 5th, 2013
Categories: crime, fiction, mystery,

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way reflects my feelings towards the book or the book’s review.

Summary (Goodreads): A long-lost Modigliani portrait, a grieving brother’s blood vendetta, a Soviet secret that’s been buried for 80 years—Parisian private investigator Aimée Leduc’s current case is her most exciting one yet.
When Aimée’s long-term partner and best friend Rene leaves their detective agency for a new job in Silicon Valley, Aimée knows she can handle the extra workload. At least, that what she tells herself. Repeatedly.
But all bets are off when Yuri Volodya, a mysterious old Russian man, hires Aimée to protect a painting. By the time she gets to his Montparnasse atelier, the precious painting has already been stolen, leaving Aimée smelling a rat. The next day, Yuri is found tortured to death in his kitchen. To top it all off, it looks like Aimée isn’t the only one looking for the painting. Some very dangerous people are threatening her and her coworkers, and witnesses are dropping like flies. Now Aimée has to find the painting, stop her attackers, and figure out what her long-missing mother, who is on Interpol’s most wanted list, has to do with all this—fingers crossed she wasn’t Yuri’s murderer, despite clues pointing in that direction.
Obviously, Rene doesn’t need to worry. Aimee has things under control.

I just couldn’t get into Murder Below Montparnasse. When I got it I didn’t realise it was book #13, and prehaps that is part of the problem. The plot premise could have been really interesting, and I think  if I wasn’t wading through far too much backstory I might have enjoyed it. Books in long series’ need to be able to stand mostly by themselves. For example – the In Death series or the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. (I read books in the middle of both of those series before I ever read the first ones and was able to enjoy the novels anyways.) Enough backstory that you can see the depth to the characters, but the book shouldn’t be relying on that back story entirely either.

I also had a problem with the random bits of French dropped through the book. I get it’s set in Paris and that they are talking in French, but when sentences suddenly change to French in the middle of a block of English it is somewhat jarring. Swear words I can handle. One of two sentences (translated by the next characters thoughts) yep, that’s fine. For example – Character A: “French words blah blah” Character B: *thinks* Yeah blah blah blah is right. Character A: English.  It just flows better than – Character A: “English words blah blah. Randomly dropped in French words. More English words.”

Aimee annoyed me quite frankly. She seemed like the kind of person who is happier to wallow in their sorrow/circumstances/etc instead of doing something about it. She’s supposed to be a private investigator for Pete’s sake. She also seemed kind of whiny. But that may have just been my impression.

Lastly, I found this to be an excruicatingly slow moving plot. I’m on page 50 and all that’s happened is a car accident and Aimee sort of investigating a robbery but not really because the old guy didn’t want to report it. The first 5 or so pages, with the undercover part was the most interesting. I admit I was vaguely interested about the painting being stolen but by then I was just starting to get frustrated by the book.

I didn’t finish the book – I’m on page 52. I may come back to it one day, maybe if I ever read the first book in the series.


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