This was quite a different sort of crime read. Lena (pronounced Lay-na, not Lea-ner to rhyme with cleaner, although she thinks she should have reconsidered naming her business ‘Lena’s Cleaners) is a bit of an amateur sleuth, by all accounts. However, mostly she’s a rather diligent business-woman who runs her own cleaning service.
A Hungarian immigrant, she also employs her cousin Sarika, who although not the best time-keeper, does do her best to do her job when she eventually gets there. When Sarika is implicated in the theft of a valuable artwork at the gallery where they have a cleaning contract, it’s up to Lena to clear her name. This proves quite difficult to do as evidence accumulates against her and she chooses to disappear rather than stick around and explain what actually happened on the night in question.
Lena is quite an endearing character, although I did find her quite quirky. I put this down to the fact that she doesn’t quite fit in to her British surroundings, still retaining her very European roots. I loved the ‘Hungarianisms’ (is that a word?) that are thrown in – her mentions of home and her mother’s cooking. I too grew up with Hungarian roots, so a lot of this was familiar to me.
Lena is a refreshing individual – she’s rather naive and as she learns more about the people she’s been working for her eyes are opened and I think she learns that people aren’t always to be taken at face value and aren’t always what they appear to be. When it comes to herself though, she’s very resolute and determined to forge ahead and made a decent life for herself. She’s always looking for new opportunities and ways to better herself and her business. I loved that she wanted to be a role model for her younger cousin and really wanted to show her how to rise above whatever circumstances you find yourself in, and what people think of you.
Although this is the second in a series, it reads quite well as a standalone, although there were one or two areas on which the author could have elaborated on to give more background to readers who hadn’t read the first book. It’s a really enjoyable 4-star read, and I think the cover is rather lovely!
Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me along on the blog tour.
Purchase Link – amzn.to/2VWJ3ZD
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.
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