Pursuing the truth can be a dangerous game…
School’s out for the summer, and Alex and Donna are embarking on their third case – looking for Lady in Red, a lost masterpiece by Victorian painter, Gabriel Pascoe.
There is no time to lose, because the artist’s house, Acacia Villa, where their friend Jake lives, is due to be demolished, and vital clues may be destroyed. And Alex has an additional problem: he is terrified of snakes, and Jake has a pet snake called Queenie…
As the twins pursue their enquiries, they come up against the man who wants to demolish Acacia Villa, the powerful Mr Mortimer. But he is the godfather of their baby half-sister, Sophie. Criticising him could open up family rifts, which have only just healed.
Then Queenie goes missing, setting in motion a disastrous train of events that will turn the search for Lady in Red into the twins’ most dangerous case yet.
Lady in Red is the third book in the Eye Spy series for middle grade readers.
“Any child aged 9 – 13 would find the characters intriguing, and the plot mesmerizing.” A Wishing Shelf Book Review. Read the full review here.
“It is a really clever story…I couldn’t wait to read this to the end.” Love Reading 4 Kids. Read the full review here.
To read the first chapter of Lady in Red, click here.
How Lady in Red came to be Written
When I started writing, twenty years ago, my first novel was a children’s adventure story called The Siege of Acacia Villa. This book never found a publisher (first books very seldom do), but when I began writing Lady in Red, it occurred to me that the central mystery – a missing Pre-Raphaelite painting – would make a perfect case for Alex and Donna to try and solve. I also reused the setting – Acacia Villa – and some of the original characters.
Acacia Villa is very close to my heart, because it is based on one of the houses I lived in as a child. When I was nine, my father was promoted at work, and as a result we moved from a small house in Epsom to a huge Victorian house in Wimbledon which had been converted into three flats. We lived in the spacious first floor flat, and from our living room windows we could look down on a long, wide garden which was divided into three terraces: a patio, a grassed area, and an overgrown jungle of trees and bushes at the bottom. Best of all, next door was an equally large deserted house, with boarded-up windows, and an even wilder garden. There was a gap in the fence between the two gardens on the bottom terrace, through which I often slipped into the garden next door. Together, the two gardens formed a wonderful playground for me. I have never forgotten the thrill of excitement I felt as I explored the ‘secret’ garden next door, and the feeling of unseen eyes watching me from the empty house.
On one occasion, I was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of police sirens, and peering through the curtains, I saw police cars parked outside the deserted house next door, and a lot of policemen milling around. The next day we discovered that a local villain had been storing his cache of stolen goods in the empty house.
After that, I was never brave enough to creep into the ‘secret’ garden again, but the two houses, and the cache of stolen goods, provided the inspiration for both plot and setting for Lady in Red.
Published by Matador 28 October 2019.
Paperback ISBN 9781838591694
Ebook ASIN B081B54DPD
Ebook ISBN 9781838597238
Cover illustration by Gaynor Solly.