Although this book has a lot going for it, it’s not the upbeat mystery I was hoping for. 3/5 stars.
Thank you to HarperCollins UK, 4th Estate and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book and the chance to review it.
Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars will be published on 12th January.
The blurb: Soho, 1965.
In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre. When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate.
But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth. Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.
For in order to uncover Iolanthe’s secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own…
There are many things to like about Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars. I think this is the first story I’ve read which is set in 1960s’ London, a location which was brilliantly rendered, interesting and refreshing.
The diversity of the characters is also impressive. Aloysius, a Jamaican accountant, quickly became my favourite. The story moves at a good pace and there’s always something happening, mostly because the main characters are roving all over London and then southern England in search of the missing Iolanthe.
The story is told in close third person, switching between various characters’ POVs. All these viewpoints are well-realised, but I didn’t get enough time with any one character before the POV switched to another. Unfortunately this meant I failed to connect properly with any of them and so wasn’t that engaged in their various missions. The disconnect I felt towards the characters’ present goals was compounded by their flitting between the present and reminiscing about past events.
From the book cover and blurb, I was expecting a far more upbeat read: an exciting, lighthearted mystery with a sprinkling of romance. What I got was a meditation on displacement, the experience of being foreign and disadvantaged, and the evils of racism, misogyny and xenophobia. I think if I’d gone into the book expecting the heavier subject matter, I might have had a more positive experience.
Overall: an interesting and ambitious book, but probably best to know exactly what you’re getting into before you dive into the story.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul