Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for A Clean Canvas by Elizabeth Mundy, the second book in the author’s fun Lena Szarka Mystery series. Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my review copy. You can read my review below.
There’s also a giveaway too (UK only) with a chance for one lucky person to win a Winsor & Newton pocket-sized watercolour set and a signed copy of A Clean Canvas. To enter via Rafflecopter click here.
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- UK entries only.
- Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.
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- I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the Book
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.
Format: ebook, paperback (288 pp.) Publisher: Constable
Published: 3rd January 2019 Genre: Mystery
Find A Clean Canvas on Goodreads
I really enjoyed the first book in the series, In Strangers’ Houses, and Elizabeth Mundy has repeated the same winning formula in this second outing for Hungarian cleaner, Lena Szarka, now running her own fledgling cleaning business. Although A Clean Canvas works perfectly as a standalone, there are some references to events in the first book.
A cleaner is a great premise for an amateur detective because of course they have unparalleled access to the homes of their clients (no search warrant needed) and can learn all sorts of things about them from the way they fold their socks to what they keep in the cupboard beneath their sink. As Lena confides, ‘Their houses speak… If you learn how to listen.’
I loved how cleaning is never far from Lena’s mind, whether as a means of relaxation or concentration (‘Polishing shoes always helped her think’), a spur to activity (‘She saw a dirty teacup and fought the urge to wash it up’) or as a way of judging character. ‘She knew his type. Ignore you unless they wanted something. The kind of person you would clean for for years, dusting his television, washing his socks, wiping the dried up szar from his toilet bowl. He wouldn’t even know your name and would never think to leave a tip at Christmas.’ [Even if you don’t speak Hungarian, I think you can probably work out the meaning of the word szar!]
Lena is smart, observant and has a logical mind; all useful attributes for a detective. Combine that with a strong sense of natural justice and loyalty to friends and relatives, and it’s no surprise Lena can’t help but get involved when her cousin is suspected of the theft of a valuable painting. And she’s thrilled when she’s able to team up with an old ally unexpectedly back on the scene…and perhaps not just for this case?
Lena’s mother, Greta (a personal favourite from the first book) makes a return appearance, albeit at a distance. Greta is a woman who can fall out with someone over the matter of a burnt pan, who prides herself on making the definitive chicken paprikash and distrusts any man who doesn’t have a healthy appetite. At one point, detecting the urge to make a goulash for the man for whom she harbours romantic feelings, Lena fears she may be turning into her mother! On another occasion, Lena describes a girl as having ‘proportions her mother would have approved of’.
I really enjoyed getting to know Lena again and joining her on another adventure. A Clean Canvas is a charming and entertaining read and I hope Lena’s plans for her new venture mean there will be further adventures ahead for her.
In three words: Engaging, amiable, mystery
Try something similar…Madam Tulip by David Ahern (read my review here)
About the Author
Elizabeth Mundy’s grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant to America who raised five children on a chicken farm in Indiana. An English Literature graduate from Edinburgh University, Elizabeth is a marketing director for an investment firm and lives in London with her messy husband and two young children. A Clean Canvas is the second book in the Lena Szarka mystery series about a Hungarian cleaner who turns detective.
Connect with Elizabeth