An Exclusive Excerpt from Cara Black’s “Murder on the Champ de Mars”

An Exclusive Excerpt from Cara Black’s “Murder on the Champ de Mars”

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Author Cara Black/ photographer Laura Skayhan
Author Cara Black/ photographer Laura Skayhan

Paris, April 1999 · Sunday, Late Afternoon

Aimée 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. Puréed 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.

Murder on the Champ de Mars, Cara Black. (c) Soho Press, 2015. Reprinted by arrangement with Soho Press. The latest in the best-selling Aimée Leduc Series is now available!

Murder on the Champ de Mars by Cara Black
Murder on the Champ de Mars by Cara Black
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Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 14 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime. With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.

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