Axelle got into modeling by mistake. She stays because there are mysteries to solve, and she can work best if she is a model undercover. Model Undercover: London finds her in her home territory, London, trying to find out who attacked a fashion photographer and why. She has to fit her sleuthing in and around fittings, shows, and spending time with her boyfriend, Sebastian, who has flown in to spend a few days with her. Fortunately, Sebastian is a willing partner in the detective business, and most of her suspects are from the fashion world.
Carina Axelsson plots a tight mystery with plenty of leads for her heroine to track down. The twists and turns are gripping and the conclusion satisfactory. Axelle is a competent and curious heroine who knows how to get things done. She does plenty of work herself and is not afraid to ask others for help, giving the book a good cast of supporting characters, many of who are in more than one book. These are not as developed as Axelle herself, but they are a solid part of the story.
And, there are clothes. Lots and lots of clothes and clothing styles are described in the book, as are the elements that go into making someone’s look both stylish and unique. While Axelle models for the sake of being a detective, she still notices and appreciates what people are wearing and has a noteworthy collection of her own. Coupled with this is a survey of fashion terms and habits, giving an insider’s look at the modeling world.
In addition to capturing the world of fashion, Axellson explores London with her readers. The location is as much a part of the story as the modeling or the mystery—and intertwines with both. Axelle knows London well and describes the locations she frequents as well as those she discovers through following clues.
Model Undercover: London has a great sense of place and is an introduction to the unique culture of the modeling world. It is recommended to middle-grade and young adults who enjoy or have enjoyed Nancy Drew, enjoy fashion, and like to see a self-confident woman at work.
Although it is the third book in the series, Model Undercover: London functions well as a self-contained book and new readers will have no problem starting here.
PS: The book Charlotte loans Axelle, The Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion, really does exist. I cannot speak to its quality, though I am now curious.