I was delighted to be given an advance copy of The Carlswick Deception by S L Beaumont in return for an honest review. This is the forth in a contemporary, young adult mystery series and is just as original and engaging as the previous three books. Now, I am very aware that I am not the target audience and there are elements, which were too young for this 38-year-old, but I do love a good quality young adult book and The Carlswick Deception certainly didn’t disappoint.
Here is a little background to the series so far- without giving too much away! The main character, Stephanie, has been described by some as a modern-day Nancy Drew and I think this is a great comparison, especially as I love Ms Drew still. The story begins with Stephanie moving from New Zealand to England in order to spend more time with her father and to study at Oxford. She spends the summer before university with her grandmother and connects with an up and coming indie band member, James, in the village. It turns out that there is a feud between the two families, going back to events in World War 2. The mystery then revolves around stolen German art from that period and a connected mysterious death. The next two books continue along this art history theme with lots of twists and turns as well as how Stephanie and James navigate their relationship as Stephanie begins university and James’ band career takes off.
The Carlswick Deception moves on from art history to priceless literary works. Stephanie takes on a summer job working with the police, as part of a stolen art recovery unit. A precious Shakespearian First Folio is taken as part of a robbery, which turns out to part of a larger operation. There is trouble afoot with James, as they struggle to find time for each other and a rather handsome young detective in the picture too. Throw in that that the plot takes part in Oxford and Venice and you have a fantastic summer read.
I think that Beaumont’s use of art and literature as the basis for her mysteries is refreshing and certainly well researched. She pays great attention to detail in subject matter and in her setting descriptions. I do like how different countries are woven into the storyline too and Beaumont’s clear love for these countries is contagious. I love Stephanie for her fierce independence, her curiosity and intelligence. I also like how her character is developing throughout the series and I’m really looking forward to seeing where Beaumont takes her next.
My problem with the genre of YA fiction is that it is quite often dominated by a selected few, well-known names and that lesser known authors are sometimes not given the recognition they deserve. S L Beaumont’s books are currently a bit of a hidden treasure and I’m so glad I stumbled upon them.