Aimée Leduc (Murder in Passy, 2011, etc.) helps her partner clear his girlfriend of a grisly crime.
Red lanterns mark the doorways of the oldest and smallest of Paris’ four Chinatowns. Tucked in a corner of the Marais, the district boasts shops, restaurants and a thriving retail trade fueled by waves of illegal immigrants who work in sweatshops by day and sleep on mattresses on the factories’ floors at night. Meizi Wu is one of these immigrants. A doll-like woman, scarcely taller than dwarf René Friant, Meizi accepts René’s attentions hesitantly. But during her birthday dinner at Chez Chun, Meizi receives a phone call that causes her to flee the restaurant and disappear. The police think her disappearance is connected to the death of Pascal Samour, asphyxiated with shrink-wrap and left in an alley to be gnawed by rats. But how could tiny Meizi overpower the sturdy engineer? René begs his partner Aimée to find the real killer. So does Mademoiselle Samoukashian, Pascal’s great aunt, a survivor of the Nazi persecution of Armenians. But the plea that tempts her most is from the muscular, brown-haired agent of the DST—Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire—France’s Homeland Security. Sacault, who tells her that Pascal worked for DST, offers her information about her mother, who disappeared when Aimée was eight, in return for her help. Aimée is sure that the solution to the mystery lies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Artes and Métiers, where Pascal studied engineering. But finding the connection between the prestigious technical school and Chinatown’s shadowy world of undocumented workers will take all Aimée’s skill and determination.
Black’s 12th lets readers peek into a corner of Paris that Fodor’s leaves out.