‘A Clean Canvas’ by Elizabeth Mundy


Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner, dusts off her detective skills when a masterpiece is stolen from a gallery she cleans with her cousin Sarika. But 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. With the evidence mounting against Sarika 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.


My Review

I have a rather embarrassing confession to make.  Honestly this is becoming too much of a habit.  Anyway back to the review.  Although I have Elizabeth’s first book ‘In Strangers’ Houses’ on my mahoosive  and ever expanding ‘To Be Read’ mountain, I haven’t actually read it yet.  What a mistake to make.  Judging by how much I enjoyed reading ‘A Clean Canvas’, I can one hundred per cent guarantee that ‘In Strangers’ Houses’ will not be on that mountain for very much longer.  I absolutely loved reading ‘A Clean Canvas’ but more about that in a bit.

I loved the character of Lena Szarka and I took to her from the start.  She is a character that will stay fresh in my mind for a long time to come.  She is unique in that she is a Hungarian cleaner, who is also an amateur detective.  Certainly not jobs that would immediately spring to mind as being connected in any way.  When you think about it though the combination makes sense in that the cleaner is always in the background and picking up everything- literally.  Lena is very diplomatic and subtle or at least that’s how I think of her.  She has way more patience than I have.  She prides herself on running a successful and professional cleaning business although she is thinking of ways in which to expand the business to increase her income.  She works with her cousin although they don’t always have the easiest of working relationships.  Lena is smart, feisty, tenacious and she is certainly a tough cookie.  By the time I finished this book, I really did feel as though she was a friend of mine and I felt naturally protective of her.

Pretty much by the end of the first page, I was hooked on this book.  It wasn’t one of those books that I could read in one session but I did read the book over the course of a couple of days.   Reading ‘A Clean Canvas’ became an addiction and every time I had to put the book to one side, I would immediately look forward to picking it back up again.  I seemed to charge through the last half of the book as my desperation to find out how the story concluded, steadily increased.  The further I got into the story, the more I wanted to read and the quicker those pages seemed to be turning.

‘A Clean Canvas’ is well written.  The author certainly knows how to draw you into the story and she uses such powerful descriptions that I really did feel as though I was part of the story myself.  I found that I began to interact with the book.  Yes I know that this book is fiction but I find that if I am enjoying a book, I tend to ‘live’ the story as if it were real.  I loved the way in which the author has combined drama with the odd bit of comedy.  I found that I had the odd chuckle at something that I had read.

In short, ‘A Clean Canvas’ is one book that I will not forget in a hurry.  It really was a delightful read.  In Lena Szarka, we have a lead character who will go far and who is easy to warm to.  I would definitely recommend this book to other readers.  I can’t wait to read what Elizabeth comes up with next.  Whilst I wait I will definitely be reading ‘In Strangers’ Houses’.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.

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