Crime always leaves a stain…
Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner, dusts off her detective skills when a masterpiece is stolen from a gallery she cleans with her cousin Sarika. When Sarika goes missing too, accusations start to fly.
Convinced her cousin is innocent, Lena sweeps her way through the secrets of the London art scene. But with the evidence against Sarika mounting and the police on her trail, Lena needs to track down the missing painting if she is to clear her cousin.
Embroiling herself in the sketchy world of thwarted talents, unpaid debts and elegant fraudsters, Lena finds that there’s more to this gallery than meets the eye.
What I Thought:
I’ve been sat here for a while trying to pigeonhole Elizabeth Mundy’s amateur sleuth, Lena Szarka, and I have utterly failed! This is certainly no fault of A Clean Canvas, nor its main character and simply indicative of there being no similar titles – that I’m aware of – with which I can compare it.
A really good crime novel is just my thing, and this book is certainly that, with a engaging and methodical lead character who uses good, Hungarian common sense and her own formulation of cleaning products to get to the bottom of the mystery – even if it involves climbing onto roofs or trudging through red paint!
Lena Szarka first appears in In Stranger’s Houses and, although there is some reference to that book, this is an excellent read on its own. Having said that, I did pick up the first book too, as I’m eager to read it as well.
Lena’s path does NOT run smooth in this book, as a painting is stolen from the gallery where Lena is working and her young cousin goes missing along with it. Convinced that she is not to blame, Lena investigates against the advice of the police. Her only ally is a dashing police officer, and it may not be only his investigation skills that Lena is interested in!
This is a really charming book, with an intricate mystery that leads us all down several blind alleys, but resolves neatly in the end. I will definitely be reading more from Elizabeth Mundy and A Messy Affair, the third Lena Szarka, mystery, is due to be published in 2020.
A Clean Canvas is published by Constable.
To find out more about Elizabeth Mundy and her books, why not check out her website?
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Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.