Miss Aldridge Regrets opens with a murder and the reader is immediately drawn into the seedy world of 1930s London. Louise Hare has a real talent for depositing the reader into the harsh realities of the time, rather than the somewhat rose tinted view we often have of the past. The contrast between the seedy Soho club and the sophisticated and rarified climate of the ocean liner couldn’t be more marked and yet Hare expertly manages to convey that beneath the surface, the humans who inhabit them are cut from the same cloth. The sophistication is only skin deep and the rich and poor are separated only by money. Take that away and at heart they are the same, with the same worries, fears and frailties.
Lena Aldridge is flawed and very human. She hasn’t had an easy life and she has secrets of her own to keep, but as the characters go she seems relatively harmless. The reader watches with dismay as she is drawn into first one plot and then another and it is a shock to discover that someone has it in for her. There was also a level of naivety about her, particularly with regards to the colour divide in the USA, which was both charming and worrying. I worked out fairly early on who the mystery narrator was, but the ‘why’ was a masterstroke of plotting. The addition of these sections with the unidentified narrator works incredibly well to add to the tension as it builds steadily towards the climax and each addition ratchets the suspense up a notch.
It's a cutthroat world and Lena must learn how to adapt to it, if she is to survive.
If, like me, you read This Lovely City and loved it, then this is definitely a book for you. This is a brilliant follow up to an outstanding debut.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.