The Bastille is a neighborhood in the throes of change. Longtime residents like woodworker Mathieu Cavour still ply their trade in studios tucked into dark tunnels like the Passage de Boule Blanc. But the bright new Opera Bastille has brought troops of aristos like publicist Vincent Csarda to dine at the upscale restos that have sprung up nearby. Csarda’s dinner companion, private detective Aimée Leduc (Murder in the Sentier, 2002, etc.), gets a little something extra for dessert: She’s attacked outside Mathieu’s shop as she waits there to return a cell phone left by the chic blond at the next table. Stubborn detective Loïc Bellan, reluctant to investigate, is distracted among other things by the health problems of his newborn son, who has Down syndrome. Even Aimée’s old friend Morbier seems to be dragging his heels. He blames the attack on serial killer Patric Vaduz, the Beast of the Bastille, who’s evidently claimed two new victims between his release on a technicality and his death in a car crash. But Aimée’s not convinced—especially since the other victim turns out to be the owner of the lost cell phone. For all her determination, however, Aimée’s own investigation is difficult because the attack damaged her optic nerve, leaving her dependent on virtual strangers like Chantal and Lucas from Quinze Vingts hospital to help her make her way in a world of darkness, which may or may not be permanent.
Black’s fourth is her best yet, with complex, appealing characters, a crisp, well-paced mystery, and a setting like no other.