Serena Patel – Robin Stevens: The Very Merry Murder Club (Farshore – HarperCollins Publishers 2021)
In this anthology, we can read the short stories of 13 contemporary middle grade authors, all of which take place in winter, during the holidays or in snowy, cold settings. Crime fiction is always an interesting subject, despite the fact that it follows a certain pattern: there is a crime, suspects, clues and a detective who solves the mystery. Why do we love it then? Because every case is unique. Every writer makes their own work special with the characters, the location, the twists and turns and most importantly: there is always a solution. It is no coincidence that the golden age of crime fiction was the 1930s. People were thirsty for truth and justice.
I like anthologies because I get to know writers from whom I haven’t read before. The writers in this book all bring a new color to the mystery genre and create protagonists with whom everyone can associate themselves.
Elle McNicoll’s autistic protagonist investigates a murder in a hotel. Roopa Farooki’s twin protagonists are looking for a thieving Santa Claus. In Abiola Bello’s story, the characters fight for the trophy of a dance competition. In Patrice Lawrence’s short story, we meet a cat who is a real avenger called The Hammer. According to Maisie Chan, only a thief can catch another thief. Dominique Valente’s fantasy takes place in a frozen wilderness where 13-year-old Frostine goes on search for her sister. Nizrana Farook’s protagonists are stuck in a motel due to a snowfall. In Benjamin Dean’s short story, a creepy funhouse takes its victims. The story of Joanna Williams takes place at a Frost Fair in London in 1776. Serena Patel’s main character has his tonsils removed and while he recovers, he is spying on his neighbors. In E. L. Norry’s short story, a mystery must be solved on a school trip. But what would Hercule Poirot do? Sharna Jackson’s characters throw a Christmas party on a lonely island.
The volume was edited by Serena Patel and Robin Steven and illustrated by Harry Woodgate. The book is perhaps even more beautiful without its cover. This book will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit.