*I received a free ARC of this book via Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…
It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.
She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.
Who is The Girl in the Gallery? Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.
Beth is back, and back in the middle of another mystery!
The Girl in the Gallery is the second installment of Beth’s murder-solving adventures in Dulwich, but you don’t need to have read Death in Dulwich to enjoy it, as the author sprinkles enough information through the plot to update you as you go along.
This installment is actually even better than the first! Alice Castle has settled into her narrative voice, which is a combination of the academic elegance of P.D. James or Colin Dexter and a more modern school-and-parenting style found in books like Gill Hornby’s The Hive. This combination really works, providing a nice balance between the art and history of the city and the struggles of a single mum at the school gate and beyond.
Also nicely balanced is the relationship between Beth and the lovely Inspector York (who I am actively coveting now I’ve found out he is also a READER!). The hints of romance behind an outwardly professional facade provide a fascinating chemistry of tension within the comfortable friendship they are developing. I did think on a couple of occasions that he would probably be reprimanded or even terminated for giving a civilian so much unauthorised access to his case, but I suspended disbelief because the plot was just so exciting, their working relationship so fun to witness, and the author even addresses these concerns directly through the character’s own doubts and dialogue.
In terms of the plot, I was equal parts hooked and horrified. As a parent myself, I dread the coming days of social media and peer pressure, so the main investigation cut very close to home for me. The author handled the teen issues, such as eating disorders and self-harm, sensitively and with an awareness of the restrictions on adults in the world of adolescence that rang very true.
I am really enjoying the London Mysteries and so will any readers who enjoy well-written mysteries in a traditional style but updated to a modern setting.
Beth’s heart started to thud. It was a flash of scarlet.
Someone had once told her that Constable had added a dash of red to all his canvases – it was ‘the salt in the soup’. Beth felt quite vehemently that her life did not need even the tiniest jot more seasoning. In fact, she could no longer even think of the shade crimson lake without shuddering from head to toe, after making a ghastly discovery on the first day of her job at Wyatt’s.
– Alice Castle, The Girl in the Gallery
The Girl in the Gallery is available on Amazon right now.
Check out my review of Death in Dulwich too!