Katherine Woodfine: Mystery and Mayhem (Egmont 2016)
The very word “mystery” is exciting in itself. When we hear it, we imagine ruined castles, secret passageways, lost treasure and brave detectives before us. People have always been interested in mysteries to be solved. It gave birth to the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Children were also investigators, like Nancy Drew, the Famous Five or Kalle. One of these stories can be found on almost everyone’s bookshelves. However, alongside the old favorites, a completely new generation of crime novels has appeared. This anthology presents new authors of children’s crime fiction through 12 stories.
The stories of the 12 writers are divided into four groups in the book. Impossible Mysteries presents crimes that took place in a closed room; among cases related to dogs (Canine Capers), we find both the Hound of the Baskervilles and a modern-day customer of dog cosmetics; in the group of Poison Plots, we can see that history was full of poisons; finally, Closed-System Crimes include those cases where the range of suspects is limited, because not many people had access to the crime scene.
There are a lot of historical mysteries in the book – the earliest takes place in 1780 – but we can also read modern stories from, for example, ‘Hollywood’s Back Yard’, sunny Santa Clarita, where Western movies used to be filmed. In addition to traditional crime stories, we can also hear about paranormal investigation in Julia Golding’s story. The short stories include murder, robbery, but also other crimes and mysteries. And the protagonists of some stories can be followed in their own series of books: Ellen Caldecott’s protagonists in the Marsh Road Mysteries, Julia Golding’s monster detectives in the Mel Foster series, and Katherine Woodfine, the editor of the volume, also continued the story of her protagonist Lil and her friends.
Robin Stevens’ name is known from the series Murder Most Unladylike, but here she wrote a separate story with a guest who disappears from a hotel, which was one of my favorites in the book. Another favorite was the story of the hairdresser’s assistant investigating in Soho, The Murder of Monsieur Pierre. All stories were very interesting, and it would be nice to read more from the authors in the future.