Monday, March 11, 2013

Soho Press's Cara Black has done it again - and this time in Montparnasse!

Murder Below Montparnasse
author, Cara Black
I think it’s a bit indisputable that today’s generation of young Americans very accurately channels the wily ex-pats of the 1920s.  Frankly, we pride ourselves on it.  Any of my friends would give anything to romp around the glowing Paris streets at night, sipping Sazerac to their hearts delight, dancing with Djuna Barnes, and musing to F. Scott and Zelda about what is to be young and alive.  They are sensibilities that we can’t help but feed into; it’s the artist in all of us!

This is precisely why, when I say Cara Black’s new novel Murder Below Montparnasse has nailed it, I’m talking down into the floorboards for good.  Black takes all of the young dreamer sensibilities that are relevant today and mixes them with her characteristically elusive, keep-you-guessing style to create a new and exciting genre of literature that’s at once accessible and complex.

Marilyn Stasio lauds Black in her recent New York Times book review, calling Montparnasse a neighborhood, “rich… for the purposes of a plot that hangs on a Modigliani canvas and involves Russian émigrés and Surrealist artists…” – and boy is she right.  Montparnasse is historically one of the most artistically concentrated areas of Paris, hosting painters, poets and writers like Picasso, Joyce and Hemingway in its sprawling bars and cafes.  
A building in Montparnasse painted, no doubt, in
tribute to the many artists that have frequented it's streets.
The novel’s protagonist, Detective Aimeé Leduc, gets caught up in a bit of this history herself, having been mysteriously enlisted by a Russian man named Yuri Volodya to protect a – you guessed it – prized Modigliani painting.  Aimeé is thrown into what seems to be Black’s bizarre and twisted take on the embodiment of Golden Age Syndrome, where the seemingly desirable sensibilities of a highly romantic age are shrouded in deceit and betrayal. 

If you would like to get a taste of what Black’s novel has to offer, I suggest visiting the Soho website, where you will find a large excerpt of the novel available.  If you like what you see – and I have no doubt you will – there is further good news.  Murder Below Montparnasse is just one in a series of thirteen murder mysteries by Cara Black, which collectively comprise the Aimeé Leduc investigations.  Each book in the series is set in a different section of Paris; together they are a literary map, rich in French cultural history and insight into the delightfully seductive Parisian landscape.

Learn more about Cara Black, and get a chance to meet her on her nationwide book tour by clicking here.

- Colleen McClintock

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