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 didn’t realise until I had finished reading this book that it’s actually number 13 in a long series centred around the main protagonist Aimee Leduc; and now I’ve read this one I will be visiting some of the others in the series to see if they live up to this novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way the main protagonist was written; she is intelligent, creative, has a certain effortless French chic and is filled with vitality, oh and did I mention she zips around Paris on a bright pink version of my favourite mode of transport – the Vespa. This character is so well-rounded and developed that it makes it easy for the reader to connect with them and actually enjoy reading about them as they move from one chapter to the next. However, she is not perfect and spends this novel blundering from one situation to the next, and has to be the most incompetent Private Detective in fiction. But the incompetence makes her endearing in an odd sort of way, and there are certain personality traits that appear that make the reader wonder if there might be a deeper reasoning for her actions and, sometimes thoughtlessness, in the way she treats those around her. The ‘life’ that the Author has written into their main character is not just served for them however, all the characters are filled with the same love for life and energy that she gives the main; this is one of the reasons anyone picking up this series this far into it, would want to go back and read the earlier books, to gain more knowledge and understanding of the players by reading their backstories. Although this book worked well for me as a standalone novel, I will be reading others from earlier in the series to see if I can gain anymore insight into the characters.
The insiders’ background view to life in Paris is very well detailed in this novel ranging from the busy street cafes, which are a big part of life in this city, to the hidden gems you can often discover as you wander off the beaten track; the surprise gardens, hidden statues and beautifully ornate buildings. Through their descriptions, the Author really brings this city to life and the reader can almost hear the mix of French and other languages coming out of the pages as they read. The plot can be slow at times, but I felt that this was a deliberate move on the part of the Author to fit in with the Parisian, and European, way of life; nothing is rushed and time is taken over everything. The speed the storyline moved made this book, for me, one to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace instead of turning the pages quickly in order to keep up with the action.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy novels set in France, particularly Paris; lovers of the mystery genre and anyone who is looking for a leisurely but enjoyable read.