Murder On The Champ De Mars by Cara BlackMurder On The Champ De Mars by Cara Black

Murder On The Champ De Mars

byCara Black

Paperback | March 8, 2016

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A dying woman has secret about the unsolved murder of Parisian P.I. Aimée Leduc’s father, but is kidnapped before she can reveal it

Paris, April 1999: Aimée Leduc has her work cut out for her—running her detective agency and fighting off sleep deprivation as she tries to be a good single mother to her new bébé. The last thing she has time for now is to take on a personal investigation for a poor manouche (Gypsy) boy. But he insists his dying mother has an important secret she needs to tell Aimée, something to do with Aimée’s father’s unsolved murder a decade ago. How can she say no?

The dying woman’s secret is even more dangerous than her son realized. When Aimée arrives at the hospital, the boy’s mother has disappeared. She was far too sick to leave on her own—she must have been abducted. What does she know that’s so important it’s worth killing for? And will Aimée be able to find her before it’s too late and the medication keeping her alive runs out?
Cara Black is the author of sixteen books in the New York Times bestselling Aimée Leduc series. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and visits Paris frequently.
Title:Murder On The Champ De MarsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:336 pages, 7.45 × 4.97 × 0.89 inShipping dimensions:7.45 × 4.97 × 0.89 inPublished:March 8, 2016Publisher:Soho PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616956240

ISBN - 13:9781616956240


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Roller Coaster Ride!! Whenever I finish an Amiee Leduc book I feel like I have been on a roller coaster ride through Paris and this one was no different. I love Amiee with all of her outfits, shoes, makeup and the fact she does not give up. It was interesting in this book watching her jump back into being a detective while trying to balance a baby. I can't wait for her next adventure.
Date published: 2016-11-19

Read from the Book

Paris, April 1999 · Sunday, Late AfternoonAimée Leduc clipped the French military GPS tracker to the wheel well, straightened up and gasped, seeing the Peugeot’s owner standing in the shadowy Marais courtyard. So much for being très discrète. She’d blown the surveillance—now what? What was wrong with her, making a mistake like this? Why couldn’t she shake off her postpartum baby brain?       “Un peu trop élégante for a mechanic. Maybe you’re a saboteuse?” said the Vicomte d’Argenson, her target.      Think. She wasn’t even officially back from maternity leave until tomorrow, but she’d taken the job because it had seemed like a piece of gâteau. “A relative is trying to ruin me,” the comte had told her when he’d hired her. “Find out who.”      Now, staring across the seventeenth-century courtyard at the comte’s nephew, she arranged her face in a pout. “Just a little tracking device, Vicomte d’Argenson. You’re a hard man to catch up with and I want your story.” She pulled her alias’s card from her clutch bag. “We journalists have to live, you know.”      “Paris Match?” he said, fingering her card.      A little shrug sent a ripple of clicking across the metallic beading on her Courrèges-clad shoulders. She hoped this ploy appealed to the portly roué’s vanity.      “D’accord, put me on the cover and I’ll give you a story. My story.”      “Deal.” The dank late afternoon air in the courtyard chilled her, and the scent of damp stone clung to the hunting museum’s walls. Vivaldi violin melodies wafted from the museum’s reception, and the trailing ivy glistened in the light from the sconces.     “But I need the homing device you put under my car, ma belle.”     Aimée made a moue of resignation with her Chanel red lips. “I’m counting on the exclusive, Vicomte d’Argenson.”     By the time she’d recovered the device and put it in his waiting palm, he’d checked the other tires.     “Damn paparazzi,” he said, grinding the tracker under his heel on the cobbles.     Good thing she’d put a second one inside his briefcase on the backseat. She activated the second tracker, smothering the click with a cough.     “My number’s at the bottom. A bientôt,” she said, shooting him a complicit smile, and air-kissed somewhere in the vicinity of his cheek.     And with that she hurried through the tall doors, slipping the control, which was no bigger than a lighter, into the waiting hand of Maxence, Leduc Detective’s intern hacker, who was posing as a valet.She joined the comte’s fiftieth birthday party. Mission almost complete, she thought. She stood under the chandelier in the thronged gala, a position from which she could keep one kohl-rimmed eye on le vicomte. Part of her enjoyed getting back to the grown-up world and off diaper duty for a few hours. The other was tinged with guilt for going back to work full-time tomorrow.     Notes from the violin drifted up to the hunting museum’s twenty-foot ceiling. To avoid conversation, she pretended to admire the decor, suppressing shudders at the antler trophies; other walls were hung with medieval tapestries of gruesome hunting scenes. Meanwhile, her target stood amongst his entourage with a glass, looking bored. No suspicious contact yet.     “Interesting scent you’re wearing.” A member of le vicomte’s entourage had appeared at her elbow. He had periwinkle-blue eyes and tousled curly hair. He offered her une coupe de champagne. “What’s it called?”     She sniffed. Pureed aubergine. With her fingernail she scraped off the splattered souvenir her six-month-old daughter, Chloé, had left on her clutch.     “A mixture of Chanel No. 5 and my own blend.” She smiled flirtatiously and passed on the champagne. Not that she wasn’t tempted. But this was work. And she was nursing.At last, le vicomte separated himself from the crowd and made toward the door.     “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur.” In three strides she’d reached the doorway, speaking into the mic buried in her beaded collar. “Target on the move.”     Maxence nodded from the foyer in his valet garb. She adjusted her earwig’s volume. “He’s asked for his car,” said Maxence. “Signal’s coming through clear. Even with your clicking beads.”     As planned. Parfait. “You’ll take over from here, Maxence?”     “On it.”     Plenty of time to make it home, dress Chloé and get to the church for the christening.     As she passed Maxence, she took some francs from her clutch and handed them to him—a tip to keep his cover. She winked at her employer, the comte, and headed into the candle-lit museum foyer, where she was taken aback by a giant taxidermied polar bear, one of the comte’s donations to the wildlife collection. Men and their trophies! She presented her scooter’s keys to the real voiturier. In exchange he handed her an envelope containing the comte’s embossed card and a check.     She slid up the kickstand with her Louboutin heel and revved her loaner Vespa—a bright turquoise model with more oomph than her own pink one, which was in the shop—while she navigated the cobbled courtyard. Too bad the damned A-line Courrèges rode up her thighs.     She could get used to this scooter’s power. She gunned it down rue Beaubourg, weaving between a bus and a taxi in the street, wove around the Hôtel de Ville, then turned left along the quai, past the budding green branches of the plane trees. But a roadblock stopped traffic before she could cross Pont Marie to the Île Saint-Louis. What now? A strike, an accident, police checking for drunk drivers? Her scooter stalled.     Tension knotted her shoulders. She couldn’t make Chloé late for her own christening. She dreaded the look on the priest’s face after he’d done a favor fitting them in; she’d never live it down. As the traffic cleared, she kick-started the Vespa. Finally she pulled into her courtyard on Île Saint-Louis, jumped off the scooter, and ran up her apartment building’s worn marble staircase.     Aimée could handle it. Vraiment, she could: telecommuting part-time from her home office, she could still manage computer security virus scans and lucrative industrial surveillance. If only she could buy eight hours of sleep over the counter.     “She’s got an appetite, your Chloé,” said Madame Cachou as she handed Aimée a teaspoon. The sixty-something concierge had a stylish new blunt-cut grey bob. “I changed her diaper two minutes ago, then laid out the gown.”     “Ma puce,” Aimée said, leaning down to kiss those cheeks, and thinking again how painfully like Melac’s eyes Chloé’s grey-blue ones were. Those eyes reminded Aimée of her baby’s father every day. As for his total lack of interest in paternity—Aimée hadn’t seen that coming.     That wasn’t the only thing she didn’t see coming. Chloé coughed and pureed carrot hit Aimée in the eye. Just one more of the daily surprises of motherhood, like the overwhelming protectiveness she felt toward her baby. Or how sleep deprived she could be. Aimée wiped off the carrot and hoped to God they wouldn’t be too late.     By the time she’d cleaned her daughter’s smiling, roseshaped mouth and her perfect chubby fists, Miles Davis, her bichon frise, had licked up every trace of orange from the kitchen tiles under the high chair. He’d gained weight from all the cleaning up since Chloé was born.     Her life had changed. Instead of working long hours at the office before heading out for nights on the town, now she spent her afternoons taking Chloé to the park in the stroller. There she joined the other children’s mothers, who were laughing, commiserating and sharing apple juice and tips. She couldn’t imagine not being a maman, simplement. She found herself trying to remember her own mother more and more often, the mother who’d disappeared so long ago, now nothing but a footprint on the wave-washed shore of Aimée’s childhood. She missed her more than ever now that she was a mother herself.     Today, Chloé would wear the gown Aimée’s mother had baptized Aimée in.     Her phone trilled somewhere on the counter behind the baby bottles. By the time she found it, Chloé had spit up all over her shoulder. Thankfully the burp cloth had caught it all. She hoped.     “We’re waiting at the church, Aimée.”     “Five minutes, René.”     “You know the priest did us a special favor,” said René, his voice rising. “Wedging us in this late on Sunday with the Easter rush.”     “Five minutes,” she said again, clicking off.     Aimée deftly laid Chloé on the changing table and pulled off the soiled onesie. She nuzzled her pink tummy with kisses, and Chloé cooed with delight. Chloé’s sweet baby smell engulfed her as she slipped her into the lace christening gown.     She scooped up her secondhand Birkin bag, loaded it with some diapers and wipes, slipped into her cheetah-print heels and headed down the wide, worn marble stairs with Chloé on her hip.     In the early evening, the quai-side lamps’ yellow-gold glow filtered through the plane trees. Below her flowed the khakicolored Seine. With any luck, Chloé wouldn’t need a diaper change before the priest started.     Around the corner, Martine, her best friend since the lycée, was pacing on the church steps. Martine wore a chic navy blue suit with matching straw hat, both Italian. She pulled Aimée’s arm.     “Mon Dieu, Aimée, everyone’s waiting,” said Martine. “Love your dress.”     “My surveillance uniform.” She hoped she hadn’t missed any of Chloé’s spit up.     “Only you would call a vintage Courrèges a uniform.”     “Got an upscale gig,” she said under her breath. “I’ll need to borrow your Versace.”     They entered the church and found flickering votive candles, incense and a waiting crowd near the baptismal font in a side chapel.     “You’ll be late to your own funeral, Leduc.” Morbier, Aimée’s godfather, bent down to kiss Chloé.     “Bonsoir to you, too, mon parrain,” she said, using the term for godfather. A term she hadn’t used since she wore knee socks.     Morbier, a commissaire and an old colleague of Aimée’s late father, looked rested for once, despite the drooping bags under his basset-hound eyes. He was wearing a three-piece suit—a first. He stood arm in arm with a beaming Jeanne, his companion, all in yellow flounces. “I can’t believe I held you like that once,” said Morbier. He reached out and touched her hair. Her throat caught.     She was surprised to see her father’s old police comrades since he’d left the force under a cloud of allegations—allegations that had taken her years to disprove. Lefèvre, an old Friday-night card-playing crony of her father’s from the commissariat, along with Thomas Dussollier, another card player who’d attended the police academy with her father and was about to retire. Both wore police uniforms. Lefèvre leaned on a cane; Thomas’s dark hair was speckled grey. Dussollier held a photo out to her: her own christening, here at this same font, Dussollier, Morbier and her papa all young men. “Jean-Claude would be so proud, Aimée.” His eyes brimmed. Hers, too.     René Friant, godfather-to-be and her partner at Leduc Detective, looked relieved to see her. He wore a dark blue suit, matching cravat and cuff links. A dwarf at four feet tall, he stood on a stool by the baptismal font.     “La voilà. Good of you to join us finally, Aimée,” said her old catechism teacher, Père Michel, beckoning them closer.     Chloé Jeanne Renée—named for her great-grandmother, her grandfather Jean-Claude and her godfather-to-be, René—yawned. Aimée’s cousin Sebastian and his wife, Regula, beamed. Regula, six months along herself, was showing her bump.     The incense tickled Aimée’s nose, and the splash of holy water brought back memories. Memories of coming here with her parents, and later, after her American mother had abandoned them, Morbier taking her small hand in his and bringing her to catechism classes. As she stood under the soaring seventeenth-century domed roof, it all passed before her like old photos in a slideshow. She grabbed at tradition in whatever family memories she could find.     Just as the priest was about to begin, Martine tugged on Aimée’s sleeve and pointed to a man in a black jacket striding down the aisle. His magnetic grey-blue eyes caught Aimée’s. Still a hunk. A chord vibrated in her stomach.     Melac, her baby’s father.     Six long months without a word, and he could still make her heart pound. He’d never even seen his daughter. Nor had he replied to the christening invitation, or called once. She noted his leanness, a deeper line added to the crinkle on his brow.     She felt conflicted: both furious with him and glad that he had come. Maybe this was an olive branch that might lead to some involvement in her baby’s life? But why hadn’t he called, even once? Aimée pulled Chloé close, nuzzled her rose-pink cheek. “Ma puce, he’s your father, so let’s be nice.”     Père Michel gave the blessing in his white cassock. She felt Melac’s presence at her side as he bowed his head during the prayers. That same remembered lime scent clung to him. The ice block inside her thawed a little at the look of joy spreading over his face. He ran his finger under Chloé’s chin. She cooed and broke into a smile.     “Before us, Chloé Jeanne Renée’s father and mother . . .” intoned the priest. The rest of the litany was lost to her. For a moment, for this sliver of time, they were a family. Together. Aimée choked back a sob.     “Now, witnessed by her godparents, Martine and René . . .”     René nodded, his big green eyes serious. He took Chloé in his arms, a bundle of white organdy in her flowing christening dress. Then he handed her to a smiling Martine. Morbier blew his nose with a handkerchief.     Chloé emitted a startled cry at the cold holy water pouring over her head. “Brave girl, it’s almost over,” Aimée whispered.     And then it was. There were smiles all round and wiping of the eyes by these people who she’d grown to realize were her family.     “Being a maman suits you, Aimée, couture and all.” Melac pecked both her cheeks. “May I, René?” he said, opening his arms. “Enchanté to meet you, Chloé, my little trouper.”     René, ever the diplomat—or most of the time, anyway—shot Aimée a look. About time he showed up, she thought, but bit the words back and nodded instead.     Melac’s wrists were tanned, and she did a double take when she noticed he was wearing a rose-gold serpent ring on his fourth finger. That hadn’t been there before. Her insides knotted.     Back with his ex-wife?     What happened to his offer to “do the right thing”? He’d dropped off the radar almost the moment he’d made it. Not that she’d have married him, although her pride still smarted. She’d crossed him off the list, realizing there was no room for her and Chloé in Melac’s life. His attentions were spread too thin elsewhere, with his injured daughter, still comatose after a school bus crash, and his high-maintenance, suicidal ex-wife. Aimée and Chloé weren’t going to play second fiddle to anyone’s other family.     She’d moved on. Hadn’t she? Aimée’s fists clenched.     “C’est incroyable,” said new godmother Martine, whispering in her ear. “He’s brought a woman.”     Not the ex-wife, whose picture Aimée had seen. This woman was a smiling redhead, with freckles dusted over her nose. A big-boned athletic type, she wore a hand-knitted wool sweater, a woven rust-colored skirt and short boots. Not an outfit for a christening, the Parisienne in Aimée noted. Provincial, all right. The woman’s gaze was fixed on Chloé.     “Meet Donatine, my wife,” Melac said, his voice low. “She’s helped me through a rough time. She nursed Sandrine until life support failed.”     “Je suis désolée,” said Aimée, realizing why he’d gone off the radar. His daughter had died. She felt terrible. “I am truly sorry for your loss. I know how much you loved Sandrine.”     This Donatine woman, she now saw, was wearing a matching rose-gold serpent ring.     “Chloé’s un ange.” The redhead gazed at the proud father holding Chloé, drinking the sight in.     The hair bristled on the back of Aimée’s neck.     “Regarde ça, Chloé loves her papa,” said Donatine.     Melac smiled from ear to ear, rewarded by Chloé’s cooing.     “Vous me permettez?” said Donatine. Before Aimée could prevent it, she had Chloé cuddled in her arms.     Aimée’s internal alarms screeched on high alert. Danger. She wanted this woman away, far away.     “Donatine’s a natural,” grinned Melac. “She loves children,” he added.     “Oh, I’m glad, Melac,” she said, relief filling her. “You’ll have a new family, move on with your life.” She reached for his hand.     He pulled back. “I want to register as Chloé’s father, go to the mairie and recognize her officially.” He shifted on his boots. “Forgive me, Aimée. I meant to do this before.”     “Six months too late, Melac,” she said. No way was he getting on Chloé’s birth certificate.     Aimée watched Donatine coo and bounce Chloé. It made her skin itch to watch Chloé babble and drool and smile.     “Donatine can’t have children,” Melac said. He paused. “We’re interested in figuring out an arrangement. Sharing care. Custody.”     Aimée’s jaw dropped. Custody? Just like that?     “And where have you been in Chloé’s life so far, Melac?” she said, blood rising to her face.     Melac held out his hand. “Be juste, Aimée.”     “You think you can just waltz in like you have some right?” she said. “I’ve raised her without a father, without even a phone call, for six months.” She wanted to grab her baby out of Donatine’s arms.     Near the nave of the church, René was asking for everyone’s attention. “As the proud godparents, Martine and I invite you to join us for a champagne toast at Aimée’s,” said René. “We’ve prepared a little celebration.”     Melac winked at Donatine. Besotted, that was the only way she could describe that look of his. He caught Aimée’s furious glare, and his intent grey-blue eyes narrowed, dispelling that gaze she’d once gotten lost in. “Désolé. This isn’t the place to bring things up. Let’s catch up at your place. Donatine’s brought Chloé a present.”     He’d crossed the line. The gall!     “Melac, I invited you as a courtesy. But you never replied.”     A pall of silence fell over the church vestibule.     “You’ve got some nerve,” she said, her voice rising. “Chloé’s six months old, and you’ve just seen her for the first time.”     “Shh . . . Don’t make a scene here, Aimée.”     A scene? She wanted to pick up the nearest crucifix and hit him. Chloé gave a little cry.     “There’s nothing to discuss, Melac.” Anger rippled up her neck. “Until she graduates from university.”     Melac’s mouth pursed. “So you want to blow this up, make it an issue?”     “No, it’s a nonissue, Melac,” she said. “You’re not legally recognized as her father. Get over it.”     “My lawyer says otherwise, Aimée.”     Panic flooded her. Was it possible? Could he get rights to her baby? A cold shiver ran down her legs.     “You’re talking to a lawyer?” Shouting, she was shouting now. She felt a tug on her arm. She couldn’t let go. “How dare you?”     Several older women in the pews turned toward the vestibule and stared. Donatine rocked a now crying Chloé in her arms.     Aimée reached out for her daughter, but Donatine turned away. “Shh, you’ve scared her.”     Bitch. Interloper. “What right—?”     Melac stepped between her and Donatine. “Like to make scenes, don’t you, Aimée?”     “Non, Melac, you’re confusing me with your hysterical exwife.”     Père Michel’s cassock swished as he moved between them. In one swift move, he took Chloé and put her in René’s arms.     “D’accord, mes enfants, take this outside and go with God,” said the Père, shaking his head.     Morbier grabbed Melac’s shoulder and ushered him through the church’s leather-padded door. Martine hooked an arm in Aimée’s, shoving her forward and leaning in to say into her ear, “Let it go for now.”     “Like hell I will.”     “He’s doing this to keep his new woman happy, Aimée, and it’s her tactic to keep him. You need a good lawyer. I know some people.”

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Murder on the Champ de Mars"Smashing and suspenseful."—The BBC's Between the Lines "Aimée is a tall, spiky-haired P.I. who favors high heels, knock-off couture and Chanel No. 5. This time out, Aimée is juggling new motherhood with running her detective agency, when she gets word that a dying woman has a secret to share."—The Sacramento Bee"If you’re looking for a page-turner crime novel that takes you through the ins and outs of Paris, Black has enough material to keep a reader busy for quite a while."—San Francisco Chronicle"Don’t be daunted by the depth you find here. These books will go every bit as quickly as your vacation in Paris, if they do not in fact become your vacation in Paris."—Rick Kleffel, KQED San Francisco"Newcomers will be swept up in Black’s narrative as she follows Aimée through the streets and alleys of one of the world’s most exotic cities and cultures." —"In many ways, Aimée Leduc has changed from when we first met her. For one thing, Leduc is now a mother, in this, her fifteenth outing. But some things remain the same: Leduc is still passionate about her work in the detective agency she runs, and she still remains fashionably dressed, whether in a slinky black Versace dress or a vintage Courrèges (although perhaps with a little more baby spit-up)."—Reviewing the Evidence"C’est bon!"—"No non-French crime writer can take you through Paris like Cara Black."—Kittling Books"Aimée's 15th outing is a killer, with all the suspense, all the surprise and all the Parisian flavor you'd expect from Black."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review"Absorbing."—Publishers Weekly"Black once again delivers what her readers crave: high-speed Parisian peregrinations, chic suspense, a touch of humor, and the indomitable Aimée, as unstoppable with a baby strapped to her hip as she was with one growing in her belly."—Booklist"Sassy, openhearted Aimée Leduc is back for a 15th outing that takes readers to Paris’s elegant, old-gold seventh arrondissement. It’s not all luxe, though; even as ­Aimée balances work-life responsibilities as a new mom with a detective agency to run, she helps a poor Gypsy boy whose dangerously ill mother has a secret to share."—Library Journal"Black does a masterful job of keeping the threads of suspense pulled taut, and braiding this complex investigation that puts Aimée Leduc and her family, friends, and career at risk in two directions at once."—Kingdom Books "Black’s books are superb examples of the genre, not only (albeit largely) because of Aimée, but because they also invoke Paris—past and present—vividly."—Critics At LargePraise for the Aimée Leduc series"Transcendently, seductively, irresistibly French."—Alan Furst"Wry, complex, sophisticated, intensely Parisian . . . One of the very best heroines in crime fiction today."—Lee Child"So authentic you can practically smell the fresh baguettes and coffee."—Val McDermid“[Cara Black] is on to a good thing: each of her novels is set in a colorful Parisian neighborhood—and there are a lot of them. The cumulative result of reading this addictive series is a sort of mini-tour of the city, as seen through a filter of fictional murder . . . Leduc is always a reliable and charming guide to the city's lesser-known corners.”—The Seattle Times“Black creates rich, plausible characters, giving them individuality and depth.”—San Francisco GateFrom the Hardcover edition.