Friday, August 22, 2014

Review Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

From Goodreads:  "Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident - but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there's more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?"

I first heard about Murder is Bad Manners from a cover reveal and giveaway hosted by The Midnight Garden, and for which I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy. Murder is Bad Manners was first published in the UK with the title Murder Most Unladylike and the US edition is set to release April 2015. 

I was an avid Nancy Drew fan growing up, later switching to adult mysteries, but there has always been something about those amateur sleuths and murder mysteries in general that have appealed to me.   Murder is Bad Manners is centered on the characters of Daisy and Hazel.  Daisy is the self proclaimed "Sherlock" and president of Wells and Wong detective agency and this makes Hazel her "Watson" and secretary.  Murder is Bad Manners is told from Hazel's point of view, as she writes the case notes and suspect list. Having the story from Hazel's POV,  gives the reader an opportunity to learn that Hazel is from Hong Kong and she relates her early experiences at school (some hazing by the other girls), how her and Daisy became friends and how she has been trying to adapt to living in a boarding school away from home in a totally new country.  I loved Hazel's observations about life at school and found her to be very perceptive.  Daisy kind of reminds me of Nancy Drew, maybe it's because they both came from wealthy families, were described as attractive, certainly are intelligent and have lots of talent.  Yet, Daisy appeared to have many sides to her character, not only is she from a wealthy English family, she is also one of the most popular girls at school.  Yet, Hazel with her adept eye notices that the "outside of Daisy is jolly good show, but inside is not."  Early on I picked up on some of this when I felt Daisy was treating Hazel poorly by telling her "don't be stupid" and not listening to her rationale for why one of the other suspects may have been the murderer, which leads the two to have an argument.   However, Daisy doesn't come off as unlikable, just a little dismissive toward Hazel at times.  I really hope that in a future book Daisy will take on the POV for the story, I'm really curious to learn more about her and wondering how she would view Hazel and their friendship.  I did really enjoy that Daisy managed to redeem herself at the end of the book and the bonds the two girls have will strengthen even more I think over the course of the series.   Steven does a wonderful job with the setting and immersing the reader in the English boarding school experience filled with classes, teachers, various classmates and even late night snacks and hijinx.     Murder is Bad Manners has all the aspects of a wonderful murder mystery, the sifting through clues, following leads, checking on peoples alibi's and motives,  as well as the potential danger in trying to find a murderer, cause yeah they always want to be caught.   I loved the inclusion of a map and the character guide which details about who each teacher and student mentioned in the book are. Despite all that, unfortunately I wasn't able to guess the murderer.  Overall, I really loved this first installment in the Wells and Wong mystery and look forward to reading the next book in the series, in the UK the next title is Arsenic for Tea releasing February 24, 2015 (not sure what the US title will be yet but I like that title already). 

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