Tuesday, July 03, 2018
April in Paris, 1921 by Tessa Lunney
Kiki Button was a nurse on the front lines during World War I. Now, in 1921, the Australian is back in Europe. Her wealthy parents wanted her to marry a landowner while she just wanted to be free. By April, she's established as a gossip columnist in Paris, working for a British paper. She attends all the right parties, drinks the night away, sleeps with men and women. She's modeled for Picasso, and screwed with him when his wife was out of town. And, Olga is out of town because someone stole a portrait Picasso painted. He asks Kiki to turn detective and find the thief, someone who attended a party at his home.
Kiki has a bigger problem, though. During the war, Dr. Fox, a British surgeon, recruited her as a spy. Although she tried to quit, she was blackmailed into continuing, even working in a bordello, with the knowledge that a childhood friend could be accused of treason for desertion. Fox holds that over Kiki's head. Despite Tom's feelings about it, she allows herself to be used to search for a mole, someone who is ready to betray the British.
I actually reviewed this book as a mystery. Oh, there's a little suspense in it. Who is the mole? Who stole the painting? Who really cares? Readers who enjoy the book will appreciate the atmosphere, Paris in 1921, after the war when Kiki isn't the only one searching for freedom. The free love, drunkenness and debauchery is common in Kiki's artistic and expat circles.
I found the book a little tedious. Fox and Kiki spoke and corresponded in code, using Keats' poetry. Those exchanges went on and on. Kiki did look at everyone as a possible sex object. And, by the end, even she had to admit she was in it for the excitement.
Lunney's debut isn't for everyone. It definitely wasn't for me. But, by the time the review comes out, my friend will have read my copy. I can't wait to see what she thinks. And, perhaps April in Paris, 1921 is just the book you're hoping to read.
Tessa Lunney's website is www.tessalunney.com
April in Paris, 1921 by Tessa Lunney. Pegasus Crime, 2018. ISBN 9781681777757 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.