Robin Stevens: Murder Most Unladylike (first published by Corgi Books 2014)
I’ve heard a lot about Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series from foreign booktubers. I have already read and liked two shorter volumes (from the Deepdean Mini-Mysteries series), but I haven’t started the novels yet. Now, when I saw that the first volume was published in Hungarian, I thought that now was the time. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a huge mistake, because I really liked it, so now I have to read all of them… Fortunately, the books will be published in Hungarian soon, because the covers of the next two novels can be seen on the back of the first book, and at the end of the story, we can read a short excerpt from the second volume.
The main characters of the story are Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, who attend Deepdean School for Girls. Since Daisy is very fond of detective novels, they establish the Wells and Wong Detective Agency in complete secrecy, which sheds light on the mysterious cases that occur at the school. So far, there hasn’t been much of anything interesting to investigate. However, one night, Hazel finds one of their teachers, Miss Bell, dead in the gym. But by the time she returns with help, the body has disappeared. Of course, no one believes her, except for Daisy, who gets the opportunity so that the detective agency can finally get a real case to solve.
For my part, I really like stories set in English boarding schools and the author created an excellent atmosphere. In addition to the investigation, we also get to know Hazel and Daisy, both of whom are different from what their surroundings think they are. Hazel came from Hong Kong and has to fight the prejudices typical of 1934. Daisy doesn’t seem to have any problems: she’s one of the most popular girls in school and the daughter of a lord, but she likes to hide how smart she really is. It was interesting to see the dynamics of their friendship. I liked Hazel at first sight, but it was hard to see past Daisy’s arrogance. In the end, I like both of them and can’t wait for their next investigation.
Although Robin Stevens was born in America, she has lived in England since the age of three. She herself studied at a boarding school and was always waiting for a real crime that she could investigate, but it (unfortunately) never happened. Ever since she read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd at the age of 12, she wanted to be Poirot or Miss Marple when she grew up. She studied crime fiction at university, then worked for a children’s book publisher before becoming a full-time writer. The Murder Most Unladylike series started in 2014, now has 10 volumes, and a volume of short stories was also published this year, as well as 4 mini-mysteries in the meantime. Currently, the author has started a new series: the first volume of The Ministry of Unladylike Activity was published in this August, in which the British secret service enlists children as spies during the war… This also sounds very interesting.