Plot Summary: Mervyn Amory is a British tennis player on his way to Monte Carlo for a holiday. He takes a train trip that turns out to be anything but leisurely. When an Italian spy passes on vital information to him just before he is assassinated, who will Mervyn trust? Can we trust him? And who is the beautiful Italian diva who has close ties to the Princess?
My Book Review: It’s been a few years since I’ve dipped into Oppenheim, but I have to say this was much more interesting to me than the last two I’ve read. It had a flavor of The Great Impersonation, as far as the intrigue and atmosphere go. It wasn’t hard to read, and provided some fun entertainment.
The best part was that it kept you guessing about who you could trust. I can’t say there were any huge plot twists that maybe the average reader wouldn’t see coming, but yet it keeps one suspecting everyone– even the main character.
I felt disappointed in how the Dictator was treated in the end. SPOILER ALERT: I felt the winners dealt him too soft a hand and they dared to trust someone to continue leading a large European country who had just threatened to pitch the continent into another world war. Who’s to say he wouldn’t ever try something like that again? On the other hand, I suppose this type of international dealing is realistic, considering how the world treated Hitler and Germany before WWII. END OF SPOILER. Oppenheim set his book in the 1940’s, which would have made the tale futuristic for readers at the time it was published in 1928. Of course, the dictator-character Matorni represents Mussolini himself. Oppenheim also had some of this type of foresight in my favorite of his (The Great Impersonation).
I loved the exotic location set in Monaco. Although the story is not historical, the details feel accurate, as if they were. There is a romance as a side plot included, but I can’t say it was very believable because of how fast it occurred in such a short amount of time. But if you want a bit of ‘alternate history’ type genre, this might interest you.