Robin Stevens: Arsenic For Tea (Puffin Books 2016)
Robin Stevens was born in USA, but has lived in England since she was 3 years old. She herself went to a boarding school, however, unlike the protagonists of the story, she waited in vain for a real crime that she could investigate. The mysteries 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 fiction at university and then worked for a children’s book publisher before becoming a full-time writer. The Murder Most Unladylike series started in 2014 and ended in 2021. It contains a total of 11 volumes, two of which are short stories. The second book has just been published in Hungarian.
The main characters of the story are Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, who attend DeepDean School for Girls. In addition to their studies, they establish the Wells and Wong Detective Agency in complete secrecy, which sheds light on the mysterious cases that occur at the school. After the previous petty cases, last year they also found themselves faced with a real murder. The books do not have to be read in order, because although previous investigations are mentioned, they do not reveal anything about their solutions.
In this story, Daisy and Hazel spend the spring break with Daisy’s family. Fallingford, the residence of the Wells family, is a quintessentially English country manor with acres of land and its own forest, and inside there are four staircases, numerous rooms, stuffed animals and expensive artefacts. Although everything looks old and weathered, the belongings are very valuable and retain the old shine of nobility. This is where the girls arrive, along with their two school friends and family relatives and acquaintances for Daisy’s 14th birthday. However, there are those who have aims other than celebration. The girls have to investigate a murder and decide how much the truth is worth. The series emphasizes how important it is to deal with prejudices and the problem of integration.
The writer also has standalone books, but last year she started a new series about child spies of the British Secret Service under the title The Ministry of Unladylike Activity.