Elizabeth Mundy

Författare till In Strangers' Houses

3 verk 24 medlemmar 2 recensioner


Verk av Elizabeth Mundy

In Strangers' Houses (2018) 18 exemplar
A Clean Canvas (2019) 4 exemplar


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Highly visible as an “issue” and yet highly invisible as individuals, East European immigrants and best friends Lena Szarka and her friend Timea Dubay clean London’s houses in the daytime and its offices at night. Although the work offers them more upward mobility than would be possible back in Hungary, working in a foreign country isn’t easy. The language is difficult, the systems and culture are unfamiliar, and nasty anti-immigrant sentiment lies just below the surface.
Most of Elizabeth Mundy’s debut murder mystery is told from Lena’s point of view, enabling a close-up perspective on the complexities and hazards of immigrant life on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. As house cleaners, she and Timea work in others’ private spaces, see their most intimate secrets, and observe their habits. It is an act of faith that they can do so safely and will be paid for their efforts. Mundy has created engaging characters facing believable challenges. It’s no surprise this is intended as the first of a series featuring the warm-hearted Lena.
Lena is a few years older than Timea and coping fairly well. But Timea, a single mother, is struggling. She’s never told anyone who her son Laszlo’s father is—and though it was hard to leave the boy behind, she expects this sojourn abroad to jump-start a better life for them both. The women’s childhood friend Istvan, a handsome television actor, also lives in London. Istvan is married to a well-off woman who has helped his career, and he’s achieved a lifestyle starkly contrasting with that of the women, one that lets him concentrate on what is most important, himself.
Early in the story, Lena begins to worry about Timea. Her friend is increasingly unhappy and confesses that the problem is someone she must get away from. When Timea doesn’t come home one night, Lena’s worry blossoms into fear, and when she doesn’t return by the next day, Lena goes to the police. They are disinclined to take the disappearance seriously. Experience tells them Timea is most likely with a boyfriend and will turn up.
When Timea’s body does turn up, floating in Regent’s Canal, the police take a brief interest, but conclude the death was suicide. They hold this opinion even more strongly once the autopsy reveals Timea was three months pregnant. Mundy rounds out her characters in a series of flashbacks to Lena, Timea, and Istvan as children, a history that convinces Lena that Timea would never kill herself. In true amateur detective form, Mundy gives Lena no choice but to embark on the investigation herself.
Mundy shows a somewhat different facet of London than we usually see and makes Lena’s situation fresh and interesting. The writing is solid, though the police detective sometimes sounds as if he’s memorized a criminology textbook. By contrast, Lena’s slight awkwardness in expression is part of the book’s charm. After all, English is a bit of a struggle for her, but she sticks with it bravely, just as she does the pursuit of Timea’s killer. A quick read without a lot of graphic violence or sex. I’ll be interested to see more from Mundy.
… (mer)
Vicki_Weisfeld | 1 annan recension | May 16, 2018 |
Lena came to London in the hope of a better life away from her small village in Hungary. Living with her boyfriend Tomek and friend Timea, Lena cleans houses for the people of north London. When Timea disappears Lena in concerned, Timea had secrets. However when Timea's body is discovered and the police treat it as suicide, Lena decides that she must find out the truth.

This is a rather interesting little book which is more than it first appears. It seems on the surface like a rather lightweight crime novel, more Agatha Raisin than Agatha Christie. To this end it is very successful, engaging characters, bouncy plot, lots of twists and turns. However there is more...Lena is an immigrant and encounters casual discrimination at every turn, Cartwright is from a privileged background and is an anachronism in the police station, there is a nasty undercurrent to life in Islington. The murderer was clear from about halfway but it did not spoil my enjoyment and I hope to see more from Mundy.… (mer)
pluckedhighbrow | 1 annan recension | Apr 1, 2018 |


½ 4.3