Just dumped by lover Annie, impoverished Australian art dealer Essington Holt receives a propitious summons from his rich, elderly Aunt Eloise in France: Eloise wants Essington to recover some pricey Degas monotypes she owns that have been replaced with forgeries. Once at his aunt's Cap Ferrat villa, Holt runs into unscrupulous art dealers and hired ruffians before wrapping up the ``real'' bad guys. As unruffled narrator, Holt providers wry observation, witty asides, and a unique point of view--an Australian voice, but with a marked European accent. The plot briefly appears slightly confused near the end. For most collections.
A ne'er-do-well artist takes on an international forgery conspiracy in this first mystery by an Australian artist and novelist. Essington Holt, down on his luck in Sydney, is summoned to the French Riviera by his wealthy widowed aunt, Eloise Fabre. She is convinced that forgeries have replaced six Degas monotypes--brothel scenes--that she bought years before. Investigating the insurance broker, lawyer and valuers who had studied the pieces, Holt finds the forger is his aunt's neighbor, American Clyde Warner. The return of the Degas works is amicably arranged, but the process uncovers a much larger scam involving a new gallery in Australia, a major tax fraud and leads to the murder of the forger and his assistant. After the death of his aunt leaves him a wealthy man, Holt conjures up a brilliant scheme to destroy the forgery plan and the prominent Australians who had dreamed it up. Wallace writes fluidly of life in Australia, and nicely depicts the Riviera and its denizens. (Sept.)