For the past two weeks, I’ve been poorly as all heck. Much like a character in the book, I’ve been “surrounded by piles of crumpled white tissues, littering the room as though it were a graveyard for doves”. Just add a selection of lukewarm cups of tea and ice lolly wrappers, and that’s been my life. I set this scene to tell you that A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy* has been wonderful company.
The only way is murder…
Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.
Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.
Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.
I’ve read my fair share of reality TV books written by various cast members of Jersey Shore, so I was immediately intrigued when I read the blurb for Elizabeth Mundy’s third Lena Szarka cosy crime novel. Although Made in Chelsea has never been my reality TV show of choice, I recognised enough to enjoy the commentary on these slightly tragic public figures. And I actually enjoyed this murder storyline more than the art thievery of the last book (review here), although I’m not really sure what that says about me…
While I did think I knew who the murderer was, with only a few wobbles in my certainty, boy was I wrong! A Messy Affair is another example of Mundy’s fantastic plotting. Everything connects. Whatever is introduced to the story, no matter how seemingly random, is brought back in later. Red herrings are my least favourite part of any crime story and Mundy makes sure that everything has a place in the overall story. Twists and turns galore!
My favourite thing about series is that you get to really know the characters. I really liked Lena and Sarika’s personalities when I read the last book and they continued to be wonderful as I got to know them more. While they grow and are changed by the events that have happened in previous books, they also stay the same at the core. No unrealistic personality shifts here. And fingers crossed for more Mrs Kingston in the next book, I love the retired investigative journalist!
Everything I enjoyed in the last book; the writing, the diversity, the cleaning inspiration, it was all here again. I would’ve liked a little more of discussion in regards to the sex work storyline, but this is a light-hearted read, maybe not the place for deep-diving into the way immigrants are treated in the sex industry.