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Mystery Author Cara Black’s Research in Paris’ 13th Arrondissement

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New York Times best-selling author of the Aimée Leduc mystery series set in Paris, Cara Black spends a lot of the time in the city interviewing locals to research her books.

murder on Left Bank cover

I’ve known Cara for a long time (we even launched our books together at a fabulous event in San Francisco three years ago), so I was thrilled to hear the newest book in the series Murder on the Left Bank would take place in my neighborhood, Paris’ 13th arrondissement. Here is Cara’s blog post about the morning we spent together strolling around the local market, shopping for groceries (me) and gathering stories from the long-time locals who grew up here:

“I’m excited about an experience I shared with Heather in researching my latest book, Murder on the Left Bank. Since the story is set in the 13th arrondissement, Heather’s ‘hood, I couldn’t wait to talk to her about what it’s like to live there. Get her take as resident. We met and strolled though the market on Boulevard August Blanqui since Heather needed vegetables. It was the most amazing thing, yet very Parisian, that we ended up chatting with people who loved talking about the 13th where they lived. Heather asked the vegetable seller who she buys from if the quartier has changed. ‘Of course, but talk to him,’ he said busy with weighing white asparagus just in season.

He referred us to a client, a man next to us, who said ‘Changed? But of course…’ then he was off talking about the past he remembered, other clients at the stall chimed in. As one does in the market! So many great anecdotes amid the bustle of this thriving outdoor market – shoppers filling their baskets, hawkers shouting their fruit ‘just picked today’ fish sellers ‘fresh from Brittany’. One talkative man, who heard I writes ‘polars’ crime mysteries which the French love, expanded on a robber who was known as the Parisian Robin Hood in the 13th arrondissement. This ‘Robin Hood’ once hid in the now charming area Cité Floral – several small cobbled lanes with workers houses dripping with wisteria and lilacs. How exciting to think the Parisian Robin Hood laid low here, I think I would. This Robin Hood was famous for robbing banks, never using violence and evaded the police for years. However, Robin Hood later got caught in a shoot out near the Cité Floral and went to prison. Who knew? Of course, I had to use Cité Floral in the book.

Following the market, Heather and I ate lunch at her fave place “La Butte aux Piafs” where there’s vinyl records as placesettings. After lunch I wandered back down boulevard Auguste Blanqui to speak with the Horloger, the watch repairer. He bought his business from the previous horologer and has been here for years. So many stories he recounted. And he gave me permission to use them in my story which makes me feel that fiction can tell the truth in ways that inform and entertain.”

You can purchase Murder on the Left Bank at your local independent bookstore and the usual places online starting June 19th. Learn more about Cara Black and her 18-book series starring the crack investigator Aimée Leduc on her website.

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