In Segrave’s debut mystery, a grad student in Venice becomes invested in recovering a stolen mask only to discover that the item is a relic of her own past.
Violet’s studies in art history take her to Venice, where a museum robbery and the murder of an unidentified woman pique her interest. The intrigue deepens when she learns that a similar event took place more than 60 years ago during World War II. Her amateur investigation leads to greater conundrums when Violet thinks she’s being watched. Even more mysterious, fellow student Tom, who caught Violet’s fancy some time ago, seems to know more than he’s willing to tell. Neither revelation, however, stops Violet from traveling to London and Scotland to search for answers in this mystery novel that seamlessly unfolds. The first half of the book concentrates on Violet learning of the pilfered Carnival mask, as well as her budding romance with the beguiling, enigmatic Tom. Various clues connect at an auction and, later, at a masquerade. From her first-person perspective, Violet, a charming protagonist with a wry sense of humor, sardonically notes the comparison to Nancy Drew, as when she spots another female with Tom and alludes to her as “looking incredibly un-bored.” The author writes with an assertive voice in clean, polished prose. Violet’s relationship with Tom is flawlessly detailed, building on small moments—Violet pointing at elements from the periodic table printed on Tom’s shirt, thereby touching his chest—with refreshing subtlety. Although the story eventually takes a turn that some readers might have anticipated, many questions remain, and the mystery doesn’t let up; more secrets are gradually revealed even in the final pages.
Multiple genres come together to form a rewarding, incomparable novel.