New unladylike mysteries

New unladylike mysteries

Robin Stevens: Jolly Foul Play (Puffin Books 2016)

Robin Stevens: The Body in the Blitz (Puffin Books 2023)

The main characters of Robin Stevens’ series are Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, who attend DeepDean School for Girls. In addition to their studies, they are the two members of the Wells and Wong Detective Agency, which sheds light on the mysterious cases occurring at the school. After the previous minor cases, they were ‘lucky’ to investigate real murders. The books do not have to be read in order, because although previous investigations are mentioned, they do not reveal anything about their solutions.

This story begins in early November 1935. In the new academic year, DeepDean wants to introduce a new tradition: fireworks on Guy Fawkes’ night. However, things don’t go well this time either, because after the fireworks, the student leader, who had been terrorizing everyone until then, is found dead. The murder could have been committed by none other than the five prefects, who were believed to be friends of Elizabeth, the student leader until then. If Robin Stevens is Agatha Christie for children, then this novel is Cards on the Table for children. There were also few suspects, but the investigation was exciting. It was no different here either – I read it in one sitting!

In the author’s new series, May, Eric and Nuala take an active role in the fight to end the war during the Second World War and train to be spies. However, even if trouble doesn’t find them, they will definitely find trouble. In the second book of the series, the three children are moved to London in April 1941, when the Blitz is in full swing and bombing is a daily occurrence. If that wasn’t enough, the children found a dead body in the basement of a neighboring house. This in itself would not be surprising in that period, but the person did not die from the bombing, but was murdered.

Old acquaintances such as Hazel and Daisy appear in the book, but their old schoolmates Lavinia and Beanie also take part in the war. In the story, they seek answers to such important questions as whether art makes sense in times of war and what is scarier, knowing that there are some people who are evil inside, or knowing that anyone can become a murderer…

Robin Stevens was born in the US, but has lived in England since she was 3 years old. She also was a boarding school student, however, unlike the protagonists of the story, she never found a real crime to investigate. Nevertheless, the mystery followed her throughout her life. Ever since she read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, she knew she wanted to be Poirot or Miss Marple when she grew up. She studied crime writing at university and then worked for a children’s book publisher before becoming a full-time writer. She started the Murder Most Unladylike series in 2014 and finished it in 2021. The series contains a total of 11 volumes, two of which are short story collections. There are standalone books by the author too, but she started a new series about child spies of the British Secret Service called The Ministry of Unladylike Activity, two books were published so far.