Friday, May 27, 2005

Modesto Bee Article 5/22/05

Author clears up the mystery
Cara Black tells how she weaves history lessons into plots with Parisian dectective Aimee Leduc.........

People want justice in their lives, author Cara Black said.

Real life doesn't always provide the quick retribution they seek. But books can wrap up conflict and resolution, particularly Black's crime fiction series revolving around private investigator Aimee Leduc.

"People like when some form of justice is served," Black said. "That's what Aimee does. (The stories) are also a way of talking about social issues and the world people live in. It's more layered, more dimensional."

Black's latest novel, "Murder In Clichy" is the fifth Leduc story. It is The Bee's June Book of the Month. Black will answer readers' questions at McHenry Museum on June 14.

The book revolves around ancient stolen jade and a struggle over who the rightful owner is.

Part of what makes the heroine attractive is her ability to meet a series of weighty challenges in a relatively short time span. She's supposed to be slowing down due to a temporary vision impairment, but each story takes place within a few months of each other.

In the first 20 pages of "Murder in Clichy," Leduc is sucked into running an errand for her yoga instructor, has a man die in her arms, is shot at, chased and "comforted" in the office of her doctor boyfriend.

Despite the exotic location the series is set in — early 1990s Paris — and the excitement the single young computer expert and investigator has, the stories are easy to relate to.

It may not be the kind of drama most readers deal with, but Leduc also has everyday things to do, such as running a business, paying bills and walking her Bichon frisee puppy.

"Every book stands alone," Black said. "You should meet her and learn about her every time you open the book.

"That's the challenge of writing a series. Some people who've never read one get a sense of who she is."

More than character development, Black uses Leduc to tell a story she's interested in. When Black started writing 11 years ago, she had no idea she'd end up writing a series. She just wanted to tell a story.

Her inspiration was the childhood of a friend's mother. Exploring the story of a Jewish child whose family was taken to a concentration camp during World War II was the basis for her first Aimee Leduc installment, "Murder in the Marais."

"I was looking at the street where this happened, where people were rounded up right there where I was standing, a street kings had gone down," Black said. "It haunted me."

Black wants to do more than write an intriguing crime novel. She uses her series to educate readers on French culture, present historic lessons, provide social commentary and do it all in an entertaining fashion.

During research, Black learns about the past and is eager to share that knowledge with her fans in a modern way.

She lives in San Francisco, but spent much of her childhood in Switzerland, France and Germany, and still spends long periods of time in France.

Especially for readers who haven't been to Paris, Black wants people to get a feel for the city, not just the tourist destinations, and love it as she does.

"I have to do the job of taking people there," Black said. "If France gets the Olympics (in 2012), it would be great for France's economy, but the whole area will change. Maybe it's selfish, but I'd love for it to stay the way it is. I don't want the flavor to change."

Black said she often is asked how long the series will last. Her sixth book, "Murder in Montmarte," will be released next year. She said there are 20 districts in Paris, and she'd love to build a story around each one. A faded picture of a French soldier with a sour expression standing next to an Asian woman is her latest inspiration.

"They're like children and each child is an exploration," Black said. "There's something there that intrigues me, and I have to track it down. In each one there's each one there's something I want to say."

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Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at 578-2300 or



Blogger Bobbi said...

Having finally had an opportunity to spend a few days in Paris, I have a better appreciation for the feel for the city that is woven into the stories Cara writes. Had been to France several times, but never stayed in Paris until this past year. I stayed in the 15th arrondisement which is not exactly touristy. Near the Louis Pastore Institute, there is a man who makes his home on the sidewalk. He was there every morning.

I wish I had had the time to explore the Metro more. It fascinates me. Learned not to make eye contact with the itinerate musicians.

I have seen more of Toulouse then any other city in France. It is quite different then Paris.

I am afraid if I had the wherewithall, I would be in France many times in the year. I do get an ache to be there.

1:43 PM  

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