Monte Carlo Masquerades

Written by Monte Renfro
Review by Jane Hill

In March 1914, five months before the start of WW1, Lily Turner arrives for work as a personal secretary at the Murphys’ hotel suite in Monte Carlo, where she is told that Joseph Murphy has been shot dead. Mrs Murphy directs Lily to assist Ted Wycliffe, her cousin, with the investigation. The police report that a bottle of whiskey beside Murphy’s bed contained arsenic, and they also discover a paste copy of Mrs. Murphy’s favourite necklace. Paul Newcastle is assigned to help with the recovery of the necklace, and he and Lily learn that Murphy had important German military documents in his possession and that Mrs Murphy’s maid was responsible for the poisoned whiskey and the necklace.

The story becomes even more complicated when Cyril Phelps, a newspaper correspondent and spy for the British Secret Service, is murdered and this highlights the international turmoil and the looming conflict of WW1. The setting of Monte Carlo and the South of France add authenticity to the period. However, although the narrative is well planned, the dialogue and the writing become tiresome and tortuous, and readers may have to struggle to follow the plot.