Murder at the Lanterne Rouge

In Cara Black's Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, the 12th appearance of Parisian investigator Aimée Leduc, the case involves the new girlfriend of her partner, René. Although they have been together only two months, René believes that Meizi Wu is his soulmate. Aimée is not so sure and thinks that things are moving way too fast.

Her worst fears are confirmed when they are at a restaurant for Meizi's birthday, along with Meizi's parents. Meizi gets a telephone call, leaves the table and never returns. Minutes later, a man's body is found in the alley with Meizi's picture in his wallet. Meizi has vanished; her "parents" are not really her parents.

From here, Black wraps the reader in a labyrinthine plot resembling a French version of Chinatown. Aimée is her usual sassy self, driving her Vespa through the rainy streets, dressed in designer fashions and three-inch Prada boots, making time once in a while for her lover, Melac, who works for the Brigade Criminelle at a job he can't talk about, and her godfather, Morbier, Monsieur le Commissaire. This time, she is in grave danger from more than one quarter, and her connections may be working against her.

She starts her investigation into what happened to Meizi by making her way through Chinese sweatshops where women work in deplorable conditions. Her discoveries there lead to more mysteries, which eventually include the Chinese mafia, the Knights Templar, Medieval Guilds, fiber optics and betrayal where it is least expected. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

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