>> Sunday, October 19, 2014
TITLE: Murder in the Marais
AUTHOR: Cara Black
I picked this one up based on its setting: it's a mystery set in Paris. Aimée Leduc is a PI specialising in computer-based investigations (the book is set in the mid-90s, so that element felt a bit quaint!). She's approached by an old Jewish man asking her to do a decoding job for him, which she reluctantly accepts (she's wary of getting involved in dangerous work, since her policeman father was killed as a result of doing just that). Having broken the relevant code and accessed a photograph, she takes it to the location her client instructed. And there she discovers her instincts were right. The woman she was supposed to give the photograph to, an old Jewish lady, has been murdered, a swastika carved on her body.
And here we get to what didn't work for me. Of course, if Aimée just turned over all she knew to the police and butted out of the investigation, we wouldn't have a story. But there are ways of keeping her involved, and not all of them require her to behave like an idiot and illegally hide evidence from the police for no good reason, and in ways that completely wreck the police investigation. I didn't understand why Aimée did the things she did, and felt the plotting lacked subtlety. As did, actually, the parallel storyline about a former SS member who's now a minister in the German government and has been pressured by a Neo-Nazi secret organisation into coming to Paris.
The bones of the plot seemed ok, and I'd normally be interested in it, but the execution felt much too clumsy and contrived. The secondary characters were stereotypical and I found Aimée quite preposterous. I gave up after about 100 pages.
MY GRADE: A DNF.
TITLE: Black at Heart
AUTHOR: Leslie Parrish (now Leslie A. Kelly)
This is the third in a series whose first two books I really liked a few years ago, about an FBI team investigating cyber-crimes. In the previous book, Lily decided decided to go all vigilante and try to catch a paedophile the team had come across in an online investigation (her nephew had been killed by a paedophile, so her work was always really personal for her). Lily went outside her team to do so, and was captured by the man she was after, who kept her captive for days. Her team, including her enigmatic boss, Wyatt Blackstone, thought she was dead. She managed to call Wyatt for help, though, and he rescued her. Since then, Wyatt has helped her stay in hiding and everyone thinks she's dead. Except the paedophile suspects she might still be out there, and has hatched a plan to force her out.
This just didn't work for me. It took me ages to get into it at the beginning (weeks and weeks to read the first half of the book), mainly because I didn't find the characters particularly interesting. This was a trilogy constructed to have the last book contain the romance the readers would be dying to read, but I... wasn't. The relationship between Wyatt and Lily felt unequal in the first two books, and even though now she's supposed to be so much stronger, I just didn't feel it. Plus, I was a bit annoyed at the direction the suspense element was taking. The villain was revealed to be rich and powerful and preparing to use that power and money to target Lily, even using the police and justice system. That's not a plot that is to my taste.
So, a disappointment. I'm not sure if I would have liked this better when the series first came out, but I didn't now.
MY GRADE: A DNF.