...but certainly not a good one.
The plot was Ok,nothing earthshattering but then this type of book doesn't have to have enormous originality but it does need brisk writing - which All About Laura does not have. The immense amount of unecessary detail slows the pace down almost to a standstill - for example on the way to school Alice took the first tube from High street Kensington and then changed to the Piccadilly line at South Kensington. This has nothing to do with advancing the plot and is neither interesting or funny - so why is it there? (The following few pages about Alice's morning at school could have been ditched with no loss to the plot too.) Every page seems to be weighed down by this kind of extraneous detail - the reader doesn't need to know if it's possible to park outside Joss and Laura's house or that Luara's room had six cupboards,two of which she didn't open, etc and the book would have been immeasurably, and easily, improved if Ms Bates' editor had told her to cut all this dross and padding out. There is far too much about the mechanics of painting too - I can't help feeling this is a case of Ms Bates not being able to resist showing off all her research because when she's writing about what she presumably knows like the back of her hand - Mel's life as a lawyer she does it with a nice light touch and manages to be both convincing and interesting.
There are a few major copy errors too - which we might not notice if the plot moved along at a faster pace - for example the price for Alice's portrait starts off at £2000, then goes to £8000 in the space of a single paragraph, Ned is negotiating a lower price on his flat over the weekend then is apparently going to complete on Friday of the same week - can even a lawyer do it that quickly? and as for the shoot in Scotland - does Ms Bates really believe that anyone who had never handled a gun would be allowed to shoot in a drive? It's much too dangerous both for the other guns and the beaters and for once there's detail missing - that shotguns kick.
Also what was up with Ned? His behaviour with Alice at the start was pretty dodgy, he's so much older than she is and to dump her without hearing her side seems like the behavour of an adolescent to me, and why on earth did he let his elderly and arthritic mother come up to the top of the building in the lift only to make her go straight back down again? And why would it break client confidentiality to let her peek at his office? It just makes him look petty and mean.
With a bit of work this could have been a decent book, Ms Bates has certainly got the capability, maybe she'll do it with her next book.