Aimee Leduc, private investigator, starts the novel with her longtime partner Rene Friant absent and out of the country. Already concerned about running Leduc Detective on her own, matters grow exponentially worse when her friend Saj hits and possibly kills a Serb with Rene's car. Soon, the accident is tangled up in the mysterious death of a Russian bookbinder, a missing painting that could be nearly invaluable, and even Aimee's own mother, who's been missing for many years. Without Rene and Saj--who is under suspicion for the Serb's death--to help, Aimee has to draw on all of her cunning, courage and creativity to uncover who murdered whom and how it all connects to the missing painting.
Even though this was my first Leduc mystery, I found it easy to jump into the series. Each Leduc book features a different Parisian neighborhood, and Murder Below Montparnasse features the district known for housing Picasso, Chagall and others--fitting, since the plot hinges on a Modigliani painting. Black weaves history, politics and art together, and Aimee is the stylish and determined center of it all. A good read for any fans of the mystery genre, but especially for those who like their mysteries set in a world so real, you can almost taste the crepes.