THE MONTE CARLO CONNECTION
Diamond detective, Jemima Fox is tasked with hunting down the priceless Vogel Vanderpless diamonds that were stolen in The Diamond Connection by her nemesis Petrina Lindberg. She finds herself caught between searching for half-a-century-year-old stolen jewels and catching a gang of thieves during the Cannes Film Festival.
While charged with looking after one of the world’s most famous film stars, Jemima realises that it’s not just the Vogel jewels which are at stake, but something much more profound.
Will a pair of rare sapphire earrings – thought to be part of the Romanov Imperial Jewel Collection, but stolen from Monaco’s Hotel de Paris in 1956, and now on the hit list of the notorious jewel gang, the Pink Panthers – ever be recovered?
Between diamonds and mega-yachts, death-defying car chases and a devastating murder, The Monte Carlo Connection transports you to the sumptuous surroundings of the Côte d’Azur, as though you were spending the summer there.
When Josie was quite young her mother took her to London’s V&A Museum. She fell in love with the jewellery department there and much later found out that several of the pieces that she had so admired, had in fact belonged to an ancestor, the great aunt of her paternal grandmother, Theresa, the Marchioness of Londonderry. The Londonderry Tiara which is on display, was worn by the Marchioness at the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 at Westminster Abbey.
After attending Exeter University, reading French Literature & Language, followed by a year working in the press offices of both Chanel and Dior in Paris, Josie became PR assistant for Bulgari and Ritz Fine Jewellery, before getting the job of a lifetime in South Africa, with Graff Diamonds, as Head of PR. While there, she was lucky enough to be taught everything there is to know about diamonds and precious gemstones, by the king of diamonds, Laurence Graff. Of course this only enhanced her love affair with fine jewellery.
Having spent almost fifteen years working in PR, Josie moved to Monaco and following the death of her mother she started writing The Monte Carlo Connection to help heal her pain. It is loosely based on her 10 months living on the Riviera and her years in jewellery PR, first portrayed in The Diamond Connection and The Christmas Connection. Josie had always wanted to write novels – having spent years reading innumerable books and decided to start with what she knew best and loved most – jewels, and their mysterious stories.
Her novels purposefully describe and depict jewellery as beautifully and truthfully as possible. She wanted to include elements of the industry or specific gemstones, where her readers would pick up pieces of information that they might not otherwise know. This series of books, is based on real life mysteries of the jewellery world – particularly when jewels have gone missing or being stolen.
Josie currently lives in the south of England, with her husband and family. She is penning her fourth novel in the series – The Paris Connection, whist still carrying out some copywriting projects for various luxury brands – including The De Beers Group and Forevermark.
Visit Josie at her website
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“Be really passionate about what you write about. Start with a subject that you know inside out. You need to be the expert about your content. It’s quite lonely writing a book, so you need to love your content, as it is this that will get you through writer’s block.”
PROLOGUE – MONACO APRIL 1956
“Margo Peters heard the cacophony of ships’ horns from her cabin. She was still piling the clothes, creams and other paraphernalia that had been strewn over the small, two bunkbed compartment during the past week into her suitcase.”
CHAPTER ONE – LONDON THURSDAY 5th MAY 2011
“Over half a century later, in London, in an attic flat behind Sloane Square, the shrill trilling of a phone jolted Jemima Fox-Pearl out of her champagne-induced sleep and, not for the first time, she wished that she could remember to change the setting from announcing the caller.”
” ‘Yes!’ Jemima said, making a mental note not to forget the Fairfax Park embossed envelope that the Dowager Viscountess Fairfax had given her on Boxing Day, just after she had solved the mystery of the Duchess of Windsor’s stolen jewels. It had ‘For your next mystery’ written on the front.”
” ‘Not really, no,’ Jemima said, although Alexa had told her – she could tell that the old lady would no doubt tell her more interesting information. She loved jewellery stories, particularly when they involved a mystery.”
” ‘The sapphires! Of course, you were going to tell me,’ she propped herself up on her elbow, one hand on his chest. ‘Can’t we have sex first?’ He made to move her hand further down his body. ‘Sex soon, talk first,’ she replied defiantly, stealing the line from a Harold Robbins novel she’d recently finished.”
” ‘How do you know so many people down here?’ he asked, impressed. ‘I know them from London, really. That is the only good thing about never having long-term boyfriends, you make much more useful friends who are boys!’ ”
“A life without earrings, is empty.” – Elizabeth Taylor
OMG! If there was a star rating for energy, passion, exuberance and the sheer joy of loving the subject you are writing about with such total authority and confidence, then this one would get 10 stars out of 5!
Never have I felt so immersed, not only in a storyline which features such a unique cast of characters, but in a location described with such a vividly real sense of time and place, that I could picture myself there and part of the action and lifestyle, without any problem at all.
Whilst in some ways the Monte Carlo Connection is an extension of the previous two stories in the Jemima Fox series and leads nicely into the upcoming fourth episode, each book works absolutely fine as a stand alone story, with the ongoing backstory details being fed in slowly at intervals on a need to know basis, so that you don’t miss out on anything vitally important. Beware of the killer ending to this book though. I was totally unprepared for events that happened in the final 10% of the story, which left me floored, a little sad, more than a little angry, and rooting for Jemima.
The narrative and dialogue took me on a journey which was unique and totally unexpected. The writing was effortless, intuitive, fluid, exhilarating, visually descriptive and very compelling. If you are a lover of the finer things in life, from exquisite jewellery to designer clothing and accessories; superb food and wine to classy cars and ‘to be seen at’ venues; rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous to having your own mini ‘Pink Panther’ style gang to unmask, then this book is going to suck you in from the very beginning. You need to be prepared for some serious name dropping, a lesson in descriptive brand awareness from a cast of the rich and famous who believe that Monte Carlo’s lifestyle of opulence and plenty is their by right. Oh! and be really eager to engage in a mini crash course about some of the classiest jewellery houses from around the world and the magnificent collections their skilled craftsmen can produce. Written in short, sharp chapters, Josie needed to focus and channel what could easily have become a very sprawling saga, a task which she achieves most adroitly.
The action in this ‘escape to’ storyline, is non-stop, fast and furiously paced, and rich in detail. Our amateur jewellery detective, Jemima Fox, does liken one of the real life detectives to Inspector Clouseau, because of his appearance, however with that and the several other subtle references interjected into the text, not least our daring gangs of jewellery thieves calling themselves the ‘Pink Panthers’, (the first film in the series derived its name from the eponymous pink diamond that had an enormous size and value. The diamond was called the “Pink Panther” because the flaw at its centre, when viewed closely, was said to resemble a leaping pink panther) I can surely be forgiven for visualising the debonaire actor, David Niven organising these daring thefts and leaving his signature, single white glove, calling card. This particular storyline is however, definitely no comedy or gentleman’s game, with the Russian historical connection adding an altogether sinister dimension to proceedings and leaving no one in any doubt that they will stop at nothing to take back that which they believe is rightfully theirs. The double crossing, violence and duplicitous behaviour, invoked several twists and turns in the story and brought into play almost every aspect of the action and excitement you would expect from a great ‘James Bond’ epic film and with almost the same amount of rather tongue-in-cheek, subtle humour.
The profusion of characters, whilst you may not like them all (indeed probably many of them!), are on the whole well defined, with great panache and in a very superficial way, as befits their singularly false personalities and the carefully choreographed circles in which they move, which makes them very difficult if not impossible to connect and empathise with. Jemima, who is very knowledgeable about so many things, but not so astute and single-minded when it comes to business matters, is quite obviously out of her depth for much of the investigation. Although she is basically on the right track, she makes some rather rash and questionable decisions, gets rather side-tracked and distracted by the entire Monte Carlo experience and spends much of her time playing catch-up, before in true ‘Clouseau’ fashion, everything somehow comes good in the end. She is desperate to both fit in to the world she is longing to become part of, whilst at the same time trying to focus on the main role her company has set for her, that of protecting the new Vogel collection and recovering the previously stolen jewels, which she has already so publicly failed to do. Because her attention is constantly straying to the materialistic lifestyles of the people she has surrounded herself with, she takes her eye off the ball far too many times and allows history to repeat itself, which on this occasion, for her personally, ends in emotional disaster and much self-loathing. Although an unforeseen joy and the second part of a well planned revenge, seem only just over the horizon!
Definitely a book to escape into, before you turn the last page and are dragged back into reality, kicking and screaming!
I got to hear about this series and its author via a mutual acquaintance. Having then chatted with Josie online, I decided that to avoid any conflict of interest, I should purchase the books as my review copies, which I did from amazon.co.uk.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!