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Friday 16 March 2018

‘In Strangers’ Houses’ by Elizabeth Mundy

Published by Constable,
8 February 2018.
ISBN 978-1-4721-2636-8

Lena Szarka is a Hungarian making her way in London.  She works as a cleaner and actively enjoys making apartments clean.  I am sure we would all like to have such a reliable hardworking helper as Lena!    Lena is strong, and I use that description for her character as well as her physical prowess.  She has a longstanding friend, Timea, who accompanied her to London, and Lena has always looked after her friend.

Timea disappears and, although Lena reports this to the police, little is done to find her.    Lena is determined to find out what has happened to Timea and so she takes on Timea’s cleaning jobs as well as her own so that she can discover whether one of the clients is responsible for Timea’s disappearance.  Only the new police constable, Cartwright, is prepared to help her in a non-official capacity.

Lena is a force of nature who trawls through all Timea’s employers, friends and acquaintances in search of clues to her whereabouts.   The story inevitably gets steadily darker and Lena suspects various clients and friends of involvement.  Lena is a fresh voice with her Hungarian background of country life which she regularly remembers as she thinks of her friend.  The picture of Islington’s seedy underbelly from Lena’s point of view is also interesting.

The story works well with several surprises, good and bad, along the way.  Lena makes an attractive sleuth.  Observations on the attitudes of the British towards foreign workers are shrewdly made.    A further book on Lena is previewed at the end of this book.


Reviewer: Jennifer S Palmer

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. In Strangers Houses is her debut novel and the first in the Lena Szarka mystery series.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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