Sketchy and difficult to read, "Murder Below Montparnasse" may appeal more to someone who likes all the information held up in the air until a far distant chapter.
As it is, it's hard to stay involved as the story skips from character to character until there's no way to tie what's happening into what has happened or what might happen next.
This isn't a book for the faint-hearted.
There's an auto-pedestrian accident right off the bat, and then the story thread immediately becomes entangled.
There's been no time to learn to care about Aimee Leduc or who has died — either from the collision with the car or from a murderous event earlier.
The story is oddly paced and told, something about a stolen painting and Leduc's mother who is not only missing but wanted by Interpol, a suspect in the murder of a Russian mobster type.
Leduc is interesting. She has a history with almost everyone involved, and when she's the center point, it's encouraging.
It's almost possible to get into the novel.
But then it takes off in another direction and it becomes a task to plod on through, hoping for something recognizable, a reason to care about what's going on.
Maybe one has to be a dyed-in-the-wool Leduc fan because the author, Cara Black, has apparently sold a lot of books about Leduc.
Even known author Lee Child has endorsed this newest novel, which would lead one to pick it up.
However, he does describe it as "intensely Parisian" and maybe therein lies the problem. Or maybe it's because it's set in the 1920s? Maybe because the lives of the characters are so scattered and odd.
As it's a murder mystery, there is violence and death. There isn't any swearing — at least not in English and sexual activity is mostly implied.
Advice for the uninitiated?
Skip this unless you really want to be in the drawing for the free "killer" trip to Paris that's offered with purchase of the book. (See www.parisisformurder.com for information about the contest.)
If you go ...
What: Cara Black book signing
Where: Tuesday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Notes: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase the book from The King's English. Entry forms for a contest for a trip to Paris will be avaiable at the signing.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.