Eight-year-old Aimée Leduc couldn’t understand why she came home from school one day to find her mother gone. Now grownup Aimée (Murder in Belleville, 2000, etc.) must face the grim truth about her mother’s disappearance when Jutta Hald turns up at her Rue D’Anjou doorstep claiming to be Sydney Leduc’s cellmate at Frésnes Prison and offering to sell papers that could help reconnect Aimée with Sydney. Before Aimée can borrow enough money from Michel Mamou, a fashion designer friend of her partner René, she finds Jutta sitting outside the Tour de Jean-Sans-Peur at the foot of the Sentier, Paris’s garment district, with half her head blown away. Scared but determined, Aimée infuriates René by taking time away from paying clients like Michel to search for the remaining members of Action-Réaction, the French counterpart to the radical Haader-Rofmein gang, who 20 years ago kidnapped a German industrialist named Laborde only to be hunted by the police when they crossed into France. She finds novelist Raymond Figeac, who’d harbored the fugitives to please his wife, an American actress who recently killed herself. Figeac’s son Christian is a head case who’s too strung out on drugs and too bummed out by the defection of his Senegalese girlfriend, Idrissa Diaffa, to be much help. So Aimée must turn to those who knew her mother best but hated her most—the police—to stop a killer who might strike again.
Although overpopulated and a bit overplotted, Black’s third offers an authentic puzzle that unravels surprisingly yet logically in a setting of unrivaled charm.