Book Review: Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens

I had the chance to read a few novels over the past 2 weeks and especially enjoyed the newest addition to the Wells and Wong series. These books are a great read for girls who enjoy the crime genre with the added bonus of the Boarding house life (so no annoying adults to stifle the protagonists adventures.)

Jolly Foul Play (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery, #4)Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another delightful tale about our two young detectives, Daisy and Hazel, who again have to deal with another murder in their school Deepdene, a year after their first investigation. This is the fourth book in the Wells and Wong series by Robin Stevens .
In this classic whodunit mystery set in the 1930’s, Elizabeth, a mean-spirited Head Girl has been found dead next to the bonfire on the fireworks night at Deepdean School for Girls. Although the teachers think that it was an accident, Daisy Wells and Heather Wong, aka The Detective Society, immediately see that it she was murdered and get on to the case.
This year’s Head Girl Elizabeth Hurst, who together with her team of prefects, the Big Girls, loved to terrorise the younger students, seemed to have been in possession of other students secrets and was especially fond of using them to leverage her power. After Elizabeth’s death, some may have felt safe but then the secrets of Deepdean start to surface, one at a time, written in pieces of paper and spread all around the grounds. The plot revolves around these secrets and the consequences that occur once they are revealed. Many friendships and loyalties are tested and Kitty, Beanie and Lavinia, the other girls from Daisy and Hazel’s dormitory, have bigger roles to play in solving the crime this time.
As usual the book is packed with red-herrings and suspicious behaviour. There were the twists and turns as the loyalties between the girls is tested. Silly small things blew up into major arguments and jealousies raged at times but the determination and spirit in this English boarding school overcame them in the end when the clues finally dropped into place and the danger was successfully alleviated.
This story was a good romp, complete with bun breaks, midnight feasts, gym-knickers, hockey sticks, and other “jolly japes”. The narrative has an excellent pace, likeable characters and seems right for the period, with several references to what is happening beyond the Deepdean world. Modern language is used with occasional period words, explained in the glossary at the end, thrown in for effect so younger readers can easily relate to the character and events.
There were occasionally references to previous adventures but nothing that gets in the way of the story for a new reader. Anything important from the past was explained as events unfolded in the story. A great addition to the series and the genre.

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Book Review: First Class Murder by Robin Stevens

Just finished the first week back after 5 weeks of long service leave. I took my kindle, loaded up with many novels and, as has happened before, some of the novels I took to read were set in areas I travelled through. I do not plan this but I suppose if I like English stories and I am lucky enough to spend it in the UK, it is bound to happen.

Whilst there I visited the several National Trust houses and gardens. I spent a week in the Torbay area, staying in Torquay. The weather was lovely and I was delighted to find I could take either a ferry or steam train to visit Greenway, the Georgian house and garden that was the holiday home of Agatha Christie. Many personal items and written reminiscences from family and friends make the visit worthwhile, especially if you are a Christie fan. There are many editions of her books and some of the estate has appeared in the Poirot television series.

There was also a connection with the latest Wells and Wong book.

First Class Murder (Wells and Wong, #3)First Class Murder by Robin Stevens My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Wells and Wong series. Robin Stevens has written another wonderful detective story for younger readers and paid tribute to the Queen of the crime novel, Agatha Christie. The setting for Daisy Well’s and Hazel Wong’s third mystery is on the Orient Express. The year is 1935 (only one year after the original ading | Tagged: book review, children’s_literature,publication date of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”) and the details of the 1930’s train and the passengers seem very realistic. Hazel and Daisy have been taken on holiday by Hazel’s father, who has forbidden them to do any more detecting but once again the girls are caught up in a mystery.
In this story, just like the “Murder on the Orient Express”, the plot depends on one of the passengers on the train being the murderer and a detective on the train who will have to interview all the passengers to discover just who is telling the truth and who is lying.
There are some very questionable characters in the first class carriage with Hazel and Daisy as well as Hazel’s father, who is trying to keep a close watch on the two girls. However, with their usual determination they are soon on the case.
In another nod to Agatha Christie, one of our young detectives, Daisy, is actually reading a copy of “Murder on the Orient Express” in this story.
This is a mystery story, with spies, priceless jewels and a murder, that will keep young readers guessing until the “clever denouement”. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the challenge of unravelling a good mystery.
A list of the series on Robin Steven’s website http://robin-stevens.co.uk/the-books/
About the author: Robin Stevens

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Book Review: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Although looking after my niece and 2 little nephews for one week of my holidays, I have also enjoyed time to read. My niece also loves reading, especially mystery stories. I recently gave her 3 books in a series by Robin Stevens. (Murder Most Unladylike series aka Wells & Wong Mysteries). She has read all three and loved them. She gave them to me to read and I have recently finished the first one, Murder most unladylike,  and enjoyed it a lot. Below is my review for it

Murder Most Unladylike (Wells and Wong, #1)Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Murder Most Unladylike is a delightful read and it was very easy to suspend disbelief that school girls could investigate a murder, unfettered by any adult interventions in this very English boarding school crime setting.
The story is set in 1934 in a boarding school for girls called Deepdene. It combines the traditional detective novel, (think Sherlock Holmes) with a bit of the traditional girls-own boarding school drama. The story is narrated (Dr. Watson-style) by Hazel Wong, a student from Hong Kong, who, with best friend Daisy Wells (the self-cast Sherlock Holmes of the duo), make up a secret detective agency that in the past had only very mundane cases to investigate.
The adventure begins when Hazel finds the body of their Science Mistress, Miss Bell, in the gym. Hazel runs for help but when she returns with Daisy a few minutes later, the body has disappeared. The official from the School Headmistress is that Miss Bell is simply gone, resigned. The rumour is that it is due to a broken heart after a failed romance with the new music teacher, Mr Reid. Hazel and Daisy know better and set out to first prove that a murder actually happened and then find the culprit.
Whilst the skilfully plotted murder mystery in Murder Most Unladylike is the central thread there are also many other incidental elements that provide an interesting picture that encompasses not only the actual mystery but also the difficulties the two main characters have in maintainin their’ friendship as well as wider social mores of the time about gender, class and race.
Although she has been schooled by her father, who is clearly a fan of all things Anglophile, Hazel has had to learn to fit in and deal with the casual racism and small slights from her classmates. Also, given the historical context of the novel, the classes that are considered necessary, sort of good behaviour that is expected of the girls and how intelligent and smart they are allowed to be. Daisy and Hazel’s characters both play down their intelligence in class and deportment is a timetabled class.
This story has plenty of charm. It is funny and clever, and as with all good classic detective stories, the two heroines complement each other perfectly.
The author Robin Stevens has captured the feel of all of the classic mystery stories that I enjoyed when I was a child. It should have great appeal for many middle-school kids today. I spent 12 months in a boarding school and, although it was not English and 50 years later than the timeframe here, there is a ring of authenticity to the lives documented in the story. There is a language that goes with boarding schools and for this reason there is a glossary at the end that explains all the 1930s boarding school slang.

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