There’s nothing quite like reading an intriguing mystery on a stormy night so it was fortunate for me that it happened to be bucketing down outside as I read part of The Carlswick Affair, by S.L. Beaumont, a young adult romantic suspense novel. At the heart of this novel, the protagonist Stephanie investigates the origin of an old Romeo and Juliet style family feud, and ends up stumbling into the world of stolen WWII artwork.
Stephanie is a New Zealander who is staying in a small English town before starting university. She makes a strong female protagonist, taking action and getting herself out of trouble without relying on the men in the novel to rescue her. I enjoyed her sharp tongue (although I felt it would have been more effective if she’s just accepted it as wit and stopped worrying about hurting someone’s feelings when they clearly deserved it). She has impressive investigative skills, and both she and the plot reminded me a little of the Nancy Drew novels I used to read.
Having studied a bit of Art History, I enjoyed how skillfully Beaumont weaves in the story of the systematic destroying of “degenerate” art by the Nazi’s, and the origins of the family feud. It is like reading two stories in one, and it could have got confusing, but Beaumont is quite masterful in the handling of this.
The Carlswick Affair isn’t perfect, and like many indie published novels, it could do with a good copy edit. There are a few glaring formatting and spelling errors, and the POV shifts uncomfortably between characters in a few places. The over-explaining of New Zealand lingo and customs irritated me a little, but perhaps it is necessary for those unfamiliar with our country.
Despite this, Beaumont’s novel is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It has a good pace, and the romance between Stephanie and James has the right mix of chemistry, and enough conflict to wonder if there really is something to this multi-generational feud. Other’s obviously agree, because The Carlswick Affair received an honorable Mention in the YA Category, at the San Francisco Book Festival recently.