Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)
But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.
Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
First off, a little disclaimer: I’m older than the target audience for this book, but I’ll try not to let that cloud my judgement!
I picked up Murder Most Unladylike in Blackwells in Oxford, which, as it happens, turns out to be where Murder Most Unladylike was actually written. I’ve heard so much about these books (and the rate that Robin Stevens is churning them out at), that I thought I should give them a go, despite them being MG (Middle Grade).
I love the setting for these books (1930s England, not too far from Oxford) and I love mystery novels – this one kept me guessing until the end.
The characters here are flawed – Hazel questions herself, and Daisy is bossy and a little mean. Daisy being portrayed as a beautiful quintessentially English girl – and everyone loving her for it – sat a little uncomfortable for me, and a little unrealistic. I liked that Hazel was from Hong-Kong rather than stereotypically British.
Something I liked was that homosexuality was accepted – although I’m not sure whether this would be accurate for the time and lesbian relationships featured a lot more heavily that straight relationships (then again, it is set in a girls boarding school). There seemed to be a few facts that seemed to me a little historically inaccurate.
Overall, a fun little read with a thrilling mystery, perfect for MG readers.