Murder most unladylike by Robin Stevens

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Wells and Wong mystery, bk 1. Corgi Books, 2014. ISBN 9780552570725
(Age 11+) Recommended. UKYA Book Bloggers Awards 2014 Best Crime/Mystery. It is 1934, and at the exclusive Deepdean School for Girls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have set up a secret detective agency hoping to investigate thrilling mysteries, and when Hazel discovers the body of the science mistress, Miss Bell, in the gym, it looks as if their dream has come true. Then the body disappears. The girls are certain that a murder has taken place and as they search for the body, they uncover secrets and motives that show there are many people who may have wanted to kill Miss Bell.
Lovers of mysteries will revel in Murder most unladylike. Its combination of boarding school mystique, two unlikely friends and lots of danger keeps the reader glued to the page as Daisy and Hazel begin to unravel the mystery in the school. The girls have to use all their intelligence and ingenuity as they follow intriguing clues and red herrings.
Murder most unladylike also won UKLA Book Bloggers award for Best Friendship and it is this facet of the story that makes it such an engaging read. Daisy Wells is an upper-crust, highly intelligent and popular young lady, who is always certain that she is right. Hazel Wong, who comes from Hong Kong, is also highly intelligent and insightful, and had to use her cunning to overcome the initial racial prejudice that she faced when she arrived at the school. The friendship between the pair develops throughout the book with each girl beginning to appreciate the skills that the other has. The narrative is vividly told in Hazel's voice, and the author skilfully shows the differences between the background of the two girls, their interests and their acting ability when hiding just how smart they are. Touches of humour add spice to the narrative and ease some of the suspense in the book.
Readers who enjoy Nancy Drew books or boarding school books will delight in the intrigue in the book as they follow the clues and red herrings and are sure to want to read more in the series.
Pat Pledger