April in Paris, 1921
Katherine King Button, an Australian debutante escaping the marriage market, has reinvented herself in Paris as Kiki Button, socialite and gossip columnist for a London paper. It’s three years after the Great War, and Kiki’s nursing days are behind her. She’s looking forward to parties, coffee shops, and mingling with kindred spirits. Her elation doesn’t last long, as she is tracked down by a wartime nemesis by the name of Fox, with whom she apparently has an unsavory history, and is blackmailed into doing a bit of spying. A Picasso painting has gone missing, and it seems to be related to a mysterious and sinister German figure who has been stirring up political events in Europe. Owing to her professional ability to move transparently in all the party circles, she is asked to keep a lookout for the artwork while working out clues on her mission. Communists, Brown Shirts, and fallen Russian aristocrats collide in this fast-paced and rather detail-laden mystery that has an emphasis on the era’s food, clothing and bohemian lifestyle.
This story reads like a continuation of a series, which may be problematic for readers, as the main characters refer continuously to previous events. While the well-acquainted characters are capable of witty banter, it can be off-putting to readers, who may feel lost in the mix. It seems the story would be better served to start at the war, which seems central to Kiki’s current personality and frame of mind. It is, however, a character-driven novel and charming in its way. For readers who love 1920s fashion and style, this book is a treat. However, anyone looking for in-depth intrigue may be left wanting.