1929. A girl is strangled in a London alley, the mangled corpse of a peeping Tom is found in a railway tunnel and the juicy details of the latest trunk murder are updated hourly in fresh editions of the evening papers. Into this insalubrious world steps Dora Strang, a doctor's daughter with an unmaidenly passion for anatomy. Denied her own medical career, she moves into lodgings with a hilarious, insecticidal landlady and begins life as filing clerk to the country's pre-eminent pathologist, Alfred Kemble. Dora is thrilled by the grisly post-mortems and the headline-grabbing court cases and more fascinated still by the pathologist himself: an enigmatic war hero with bottle-green eyes and an air of sardonic glamour - the embodiment of all her girlish fantasies. But Dora's job holds more than a few surprises, not least of which is finding herself frequently under the watchful gaze - and occasionally wandering hands - of the distinguished Dr Kemble. As things take a distinctly ghastly turn, both in one of the department's major cases and in Dora's own life, the newspaper reporters sharpen their pencils in morbid anticipation ...But can the impressionable Miss Strang emerge unscathed? Ghastly Business conjures the world of interwar London with gleeful vigour: a time when a woman's body was only mentioned if someone had dismembered it; when the scars of the Great War were still fresh and when a pretty young bluestocking needed to tread very carefully in order to avoid becoming yet another of its casualties.
A Vision of Loveliness was a BBC Book at Bedtime and a critical success Louise Levene turns her ascerbic wit and pitch-perfect satire to the 1920s: the aftermath of the Great War, the grisly new science of pathology and the moral squeemishness of the tabloid. Perfect for fans of Nancy Mitford The author is the ballet critic of the Sunday Telegraph. She used to write and present Radio 4's Newstand, among other programmes, and is very well connected in the media
PRAISE FOR A VISION OF LOVELINESS: 'Sparkly as a Babycham, dry as a Twiglet, and honest as a tinned pie - Janey James is the perfect hilarious, sexy, rude and clear-eyed guide to swinging London. I feel like I've been out on the tiles with her all night - and I'd happily do it all again' Helen Cross 'Funny, sad and clever. For those of us who were young in the late fifties and early sixties, it's an uncanny evocation of one's past. For today's young women, it will read like gender history - and I hope it makes their jaws drop' Barbara Trapido 'A text book on the late fifties and early sixties reality ... fascinating' Mary Quant 'I loved this book. It wonderfully evokes the essence of the 1960s' Joan Collins
Louise Levene is the author of A Vision of Loveliness, a BBC Book at Bedtime. She has been the dance critic of the Sunday Telegraph since 1998 but has also been an advertising copywriter, a window dresser, a radio presenter, an office cleaner, a crossword editor, a college professor and a saleslady. She lives in London with her husband and two children.