Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Paris Exposee with Cara Black

RHYS BOWEN: Every March two good things happen—I have a new Molly book out and my friend Cara Black celebrates the publication of a new Aimee Leduc novel, set in Paris. Cara and I do events together every year and can actually give each other’s presentation flawlessly by now. We’ve spoken together at some wonderful bookstores and some very strange places, including a nudist colony. But wherever it is, it’s always fun to travel and speak with her. She has no many great Paris stories and I envy the fact that she gets to go to Paris every year to do research by drinking wine, dining in bistros and shopping for vintage clothing.
So I’m thrilled to have Cara visit Jungle Reds today celebrate the publication of her hew book, Murder Below Montparnasse, and to answer a few questions about her books and Paris. And at the end of this blog I’ll share a piece of exciting news. So let’s get started.
Rhys: Bonjour my chere Cara, describe yourself in three words.
Cara Black: Curious expresso drinker.
Rhys: What is your connection to France?
Cara: I come from a Francophile family - my father loved good food, started a vineyard, made us watch Jacques Tati films and sent me to a French Catholic school with French nuns. I fell in love with Paris on my first visit.

Rhys: You have written an impressive 13 novels, each of which are set in a different arrondissment of Paris. How many more do you plan to write?

Cara: Well, Rhys Paris has 20 arrondissements so I've got seven more to go!

Rhys: Where did the idea come for Murder Below Montparnasse which launches today?

Cara: My dear friend has asked me for years to write about her neighborhood. She's French and can't pronounce H so as she'd take me around her 'ood which is in the 14th arrondissement below Montparnasse, she extolled her bakery, the cheeseshop and excellent designer markdown shops. The only tourist attraction, if you call it that, is the Catacombs. Parts of her area feel like a village, quiet cobbled tree-lined lanes, a rich tradition of ateliers where artists like Modigliani, Picasso, Giacometti worked before they were famous. But it all wove together when I managed an introduction to the Paris 'Art Cops' yes, they exist, who told me about the art thefts they investigate. Not only that but they introduced to two investigators at Interpol dealing with stolen art investigations throughout Europe. 

Rhys: This is so amazing, Cara, as the Molly book I’m writing at this moment has to do with the Paris art world in 1905 and Picasso is young and impetuous at the time and artists are drinking coffee at the cafes in Montparnasse. It will be fun to read your book and get a glimpse of the art world today!

Rhys: I was in Paris last summer, researching for this Molly book and it’s a city one never tires of. There is always something new to discover. So how often do you visit Paris?
Cara: Never enough. Twice a year if I'm lucky. My research trips mean pounding the cobbles, talking to cafe owners and police and visiting the archives.

Rhys: Okay, confessions.  Where is your favorite place to eat in Paris? And to drink?

Cara: Ma Bourgoyne - a bistro on Places des Vosges. The tart tatine is to die for. 
The Hemingway Bar in the Ritz. You can feel the ghost of 'Papa'

Rhys: And most important of all… I know your heroine favors vintage haute couture clothing. Where is your favorite place to shop in Paris?
Cara: The flea market at Porte de Vanves - treasures exist if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and search.

Rhys: Where is your favorite place to play (a nightclub, a park, a museum etc.) in Paris?
Cara: Sitting on the bank of the Seine on Ile Saint-Louis under the lime trees when they're in blossom.

Rhys: Where is your favorite place to write in Paris?
Cara: In the Metro, in a cafe, or in the oasis-like park fronting the Carnavalet museum. Wherever I can.

Rhys: Where are some of your other favorite hidden spots? And the place you like to escape to on a day trip from Paris?
Cara: The Canal Saint Martin for strolling and watching the barges go through the locks. Vaux-le-Vicomte the chateau not far from Paris built by the architect of Versailles. The Chateau is still owned by a family who live in the Orangerie, and it has personal touches and wasn't rifled during the Revolution. The incredible gardens were designed by le Notre.

Rhys: I am sure these tips will have whetted your appetite because… drum roll please… Cara’ s publisher SOHO is giving away a trip to Paris WITH Cara. She will show you her favorite secret places. You can find a black dress like Aimee’s. Can anything be more perfect? I just emailed her and asked how I could make sure I won and she e-mailed back “Wouldn’t we have fun???”
Visit Cara’s website, for details on how to enter.

Whoever wins it will indeed have fun. And if you love Paris but can’t get there, then read Cara’s books. They are always so rich in small details it’s like taking a mini-trip.
And Cara will be giving away a copy of Murder Below Montparnasse for the best comment today so chime in, ask Cara questions and share your thoughts


  1. Rhys and Cara, how lovely you both are here at once. I would be content with only your books for a very long time! Art cops in Paris. Does everything sound romantic in Paris? We need those in Boston.

    When we worked at the med school, Steve and I lived at he opposite end of Avenue Louis Pasteur from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Heaven. Heaven. Heaven. We could walk to more art than we could ever look at. We did our best. The theft at the Gardner was devastating to the entire community as well as a great loss around the globe.

    Someday Cara, I will find that bakery!

  2. Love, love, LOVE Paris! And also Cara Black's evocative, sassy, often laugh-out-loud funny and moving books with Aimee Leduc of the kohl-rimmed eyes.

    So glad to see you here on Jungle Red. So sorry I'll be missing you here in Massachusetts! What a tour! For folks interested, check out

  3. And every March we turn green with envy over Cara's gig! I love Paris too, and I think I've wangled a few days there with my hub this fall. So your list will be perfect. And the new book too!

    What a great prize--I'm off to let folks know!

  4. Last fall we had the most marvelous lunch at Chez Janou just off Place des Voges. Thought of you and Aimee, Cara, as we passed Agence Duluc--Detective on Rue du Louvre.

    Congrats Cara and Rhys!

  5. Bonjour Reds, Nice to visit again thanks for the warm welcome dear Hallie,and Lucy! Congrats Rhys on la nouveau Molly. I'm looking forward, comme toujours to our events, but this year the espresso's on you. Reine did you say bakery? I'm in serious need of a butter laden croissant xo Cara

  6. Hi Cara!!!! What a treat to have two of my favorite writers chatting here today! So sorry to have missed seeing you when I was in SF, Cara, but you were, I think, in Paris. Someone has to do the dirty work:-)

    A new Aimee! I can't wait. I've read every book since the beginning of the series. Congratulations on another, mon ami!

    And Reine, have you read Barbara Shapiro's The Art Forger? If not, you must. It's about the Gardner art heist. Great read.

  7. The JUngle REd Paris tour! SIGN ME UP!

    I love Paris, I adore it, I love that restaurant on the Place de Vosges, I love the light and the food and the clthes and the history and EVERYTHING and let's all go.

    ANd oh, Cara, I love your books. CHecking your schedule right now! Hurray for the new one!

  8. From my blog, "Outside of a Dog, a Book is . . ."


    Food and Fashion in Paris and, oh, great writing and character to boot:
    Cara Black

    I "discovered" Cara and Aimee when Book Passage in Corte Madera was the only place I could find her books. Read the second one first, then hounded the buyer to get all the others.

    Also had the pleasure of hearing Cara speak at the 17th annual Mystery Writers conference; what a treat! Discovered she speaks and teaches as well as she writes and discovered I'm a professional reader, not a writer.

    Have my latest Aimee book on hold to pick up in Grass Valley this weekend. Sadly, I moved from the Book Passage environs and that wonderful community, but was able to find The Book Seller here.

    Congratulations on your 13th, Cara!


  9. I have actually been to Ma Bourgoyne, and had my first and only duck confit. Too bad I didn't know about the tart tatin! We also snuck into the Issey Miyake boutique, which is right across the Places from Ma Bourgoyne. (The doors are kept locked, but someone was leaving, so we just walked right in.)

    Paris is so hard to leave. Everywhere you choose to look there is something else so breathtakingly lovely. I've had to take every member of my family there, to share the beauty with them so they'd understand why I kept rapsodizing about the joint.

    The exquisite jewel box of St. Chapelle has to be my very favorite spot. The undercroft would make a dandy spot for a dead body, Cara. Just saying.

  10. I am looking forward to this next trip with Aimee, and Molly's new adventure. Thank you for the pictures!

    lil gluckstern

  11. "The Hemingway Bar in the Ritz. You can feel the ghost of 'Papa'" - This comment made me think it'd be the perfect setting for a mystery! I love the imagery it conjures up. Looking forward to seven more and to Molly in Paris.


  12. Cara, I've read your India Black books, which I love! Her pithy remarks and opinions make me snort in glee. Anyway I see now I have to start in on your Aimee stories. I look forward to it.

  13. I'm sorry. I have lost my mind. More Zyrtec and coffee, please. That said, my brain realized something was wrong as soon as I posted my comment. Now I absolutely will start reading your Aimee series to atone. And I still look forward to it! Sorry to confuse you with Carol Carr.

  14. Cara, a butter laden croissant is exactly what I was thinking... xo, you!

  15. Debs, no I haven't read Barbara Shapiro's The Art Forger. I'm going to look for it right now. Thanks for the tip!


  16. Molly AND Aimee in Paris -- ooh la la!

    And Chez Janou! Isn't it fun? The young woman who carries around the bowl of chocolate mousse must be one of the most popular women in Paris!

  17. Cara's in snowy Minneapolis today and her wifi isn't working well. So much for modern technology.

    It's interesting to me to see how many of our Jungle Red family not only go to Paris but are really familiar with things that aren't on the main tourist circuit.

    For me anywhere that serves Moules/frites, croissants, pain au raisin and baba au rhum and I'm happy.

  18. It's dull and dreary here, and the idea of springtime in Paris sound wonderful. Alas, I've never been. But Paris is on my bucket list. And clearly Cara's books need to go on my To-Read list.

  19. Espresso and pain au chocolat are my favorite ways to start the day in Paris!

  20. Cara!

    As lovely to see you here as it will be to see you at the Alliance in a few weeks!

    I've been to France once thus far. I was there for three weeks and spent the whole three weeks in Paris. I know, I know, all those lovely day jaunts and easy train rides to the south of France. But I couldn't stand to leave Paris. I lapped it up. I sat around in cafes all morning writing, and then did touristy things in the afternoons...aaaahhhh...

    Strikes me that by now you must know Paris better than most Parisians!

    See you soon, Lisa

    P.S. Places des Vosges was my number one spot for hanging out--in one of the cafes or on the grass, didn't matter.

  21. Yes Red per Hank let' s do this in Pars

  22. I'm at the wonderful Minneapolis Alliance Francaise with iffy wifi desolee more soon

  23. How have I not found these books before? I must start from the beginning asap.

    I haven't been to Paris since 1969. We had studied the city so much in high school French class that it was like visiting an old friend when I finally got there. It's one of the most romantic/inspiring/delightful places on earth and I'm looking forward to visiting it again through your books, Cara. Merci!

    And thank you for being here at Jungle Red.

    Now I'm craving a pain au chocolat.

  24. Cara, thanks for being here on Jungle Reds. Your wonderful post provokes me to precious memories about the favorite city of my heart. Ahhh, Paris.

    I'm so happy to hear 7 more books are planned in the Aimee Leduc series! What a reading feast. I carry a notepad when I read your books to jot down all the little tips and places that I really MUST see... some day... I am so very grateful for the armchair traveling I do when I'm deep in your books with Aimee and her adventures. Merci!

    It was 1972 the last time I saw Paris (physically, that is). When a Parisian couple I met drove me to the train (Gare du Nord), the husband drove like a wild man (although we weren't late) and his wife put down the car window so she could help drive by gesturing wildly and sometimes rudely at the other drivers. It cracks me up to remember. Wow, what fabulous experiences.

    Congratulations on your new book, Cara. I can hardly wait.

    Now I'm craving croissant and espresso. Ummm.

  25. merci evryone hope this bounces off the satellite to you Avi, Lisa, lil and Marianne and Leslie such great comments and Rhys!!

  26. I just finished reading Murder in Passy. It was a Christmas present from my husband. We have a hard time finding your books here in Canada. Hopefully we can search out some stores for more of your books.

  27. Diane Russom HarrisonMarch 26, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    I recently discovered your books because my daughter and I are taking a "Chick Trip" to Paris for 10 days in September. Now we are reading everything we can find, both fiction and non-fiction, that involves Paris. I just ordered your latest on my Kindle so I am ready to soak up more Parisian color!