Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are the founders and only existing members of the secret detective society at Deepdean School for girls. When Hazel finds the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell, in the school gym, the pair have their first really interesting mystery to solve. Then the body disappears and with it their only evidence that a crime has been committed. Daisy and Hazel must use all of their detective skills to discover the murderer before s/he discovers them.
I had heard a lot of good things about this debut novel on Twitter and finally picked up a copy at work a couple of weeks ago. Murder Most Unladylike is a modern twist on the traditional boarding school novel and also a fantastic detective story. The clues are water-tight without being too obvious, keeping the reader guessing who’s innocent and who’s guilty right through to the final pages. Stevens’ imagery is lovely, and she creates a readable voice in Chinese transfer student, Hazel:
“Arguing with Daisy about things like that is like arguing with an avalanche when it is already on its way down the mountain.” (p.113)
I especially loved this novel for its strong female protagonists: Daisy is shown to be clever and pretty giving a positive message to young readers that girls do not have to be one or the other; Hazel is from an ethnic minority background and whilst she is initially the stereotypical quiet, polite foreign girl, she soon shows herself to be witty and smart once she gets used to the strange English customs!
The sequel, Arsenic for Tea, is coming out later this month and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.