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Murder in the Palais Royal by Cara Black

Among the things that is most fun about reading mysteries is that often there are very detailed descriptions of locations I particularly like or would like to visit. Such is the case with the atmospheric “Murder in the Palais Royal.” This is one of the Aimee Leduc mysteries by Cara Black.

I have been to Paris many times and can follow Leduc’s visits to different parts of the central city, but I never knew until I read this book that underneath Palais Royal and its gardens is a honeycomb of secret passageways. These secret escape routes figure into the solution of who murdered one of the people Aimee is trying to help, the girl friend of a man she helped put away for a hate crime years before.

In this mystery Aimee is trying to undo what appears to be a false conviction of Nicolas Evry and to discover who put Nicolas up to taking the fall for the burning of a synagogue and the deaths of an elderly Jewish couple. It gets far more complex than that. Aimee is accused of trying to gun down her partner, Rene, and she must prove that she is being framed. Are these three incidents related– what happens to Evry, his girlfriend and Rene? At the same time, she is trying to stay in contact with an investigator in New York City who may have tracked down the whereabouts of her kid brother, who left Paris with her mother, an accused spy, many years earlier.

At first it is hard to keep track of all the threads of this story, but it soon comes together into a coherent and ingenious plot. Francophiles will love this book, if just to soak in the Parisian atmosphere. Mystery lovers will love the constant action, the danger around every dark and dank corner, and the descriptions of Paris the way a resident would know it.

Liz Nichols

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