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Un peu de trop - 3+
on March 18, 2012
Like a lot of long time fans of the Aimee Le Duc series by Cara Black, I found the early books fresh, original and an irresistible armchair link to Paris. Somewhere along the way though, the stories took on a kind of repetitiveness: protagonist Aimee Le Duc became increasingly obsessed with designer clothing and feckless boyfriends; the steadfast business partner, Rene Friant was treated like a theater prop; and the circuits around Paris became more contrived. Author Cara Black got some heat for all of this from admirers of the series and, to her credit, this latest episode of the series, "Murder at the Lantern Rouge", seems like an attempt to get back on track.
There's an interesting opening plot gambit - a young academic, who was working on a 14th Century alchemy project, is murdered in a Chinatown street while Aimee, partner Rene and his Chinese immigrant girlfriend are having dinner nearby. From there, things get much more complicated. A large cast of characters, both new and old/familiar join the story. Call it a cassoulet (and it's not Burgundian as Cara Black would have it). The action picks up and is soon frantic and hard to follow at times (for me, at least). As the story moves toward its conclusion, Aimee is back to fretting about her clothing choices, her long lost mother, her martyred father and whether the guys she meets in the course of the investigation are "bad" enough to date.
If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books (forget about Sue Grafton) you might find yourself thinking - Aimee/Stephanie separated at birth?
So overall, "...Lanterne Rouge" is better than some of the latest Le Duc books, but I still had some problems with the structure, pacing and character interaction. There's just too much going on; too many things happen without rhyme or apparent reason; and yes, poor old Rene gets the short end of the stick once again.