Cara Black, Author of the Aimee Leduc Investigations mystery series. Cara Black will be in Berkeley on March 14 for a Literary Salon with Mystery Readers Norcal.
Last night a friend asked me where the ideas came from for my new book, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge the 12th Aimée Leduc investigation. I had to think hard for a moment. Then it came back to me - the germ of the story, that golden nugget I found in Paris and quite by accident. Four years ago at the Cafe du Depart by the fountain at Saint Michel I had coffee with a secretive man who works for the Renseignements Generaux, the RG. The RG is a domestic intelligence branch of the Interior Ministry - the folks who wire tap phones, run surveillance on people under investigation and keep thick files on most everyone important. This man, actually a nice guy who was introduced by a friend, had agreed to meet for coffee and answer some of my questions about another book I was researching. We spoke for awhile, ordered more espresso, there was a lull in the conversation and then he turned to me and said 'You know, no one dies in Chinatown.' Where did that come from I wondered. 'What?' I asked. He repeated the same phrase, 'No one ever dies in Chinatown.' Intrigued I wrote that down in my notebook thinking this would make a great book title, I decided to push him. 'What do you mean?' He leaned back in the rattan cafe chair and grinned, 'You're the writer, figure it out.'
Turns out, he's in charge of the intelligence gathering on the four Chinatowns in Paris. His little phrase kept niggling me and after I finished that book, one night I took the wrong exit out of the Metro at the edge of the Marais to visit friends for dinner. For a moment I got lost and found myself on rue au Maire the center of the smallest and oldest Chinatown in Paris. People spoke Chinese and there was a hair salon and pho noodle shop next to the oldest building in Paris, a 14th century timbered affair. His phrase came back to me 'No one dies in Chinatown' and all of sudden I started thinking well if no one died here then...'What if's' flooded my mind. Three years later in my book I had an answer.
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