Reviewed by Jo Knox
I recently received ‘Murder Most Unladylike’, A Wells & Wong Mystery by Robin Stevens for review. This is a story about a couple of schoolgirls Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong who attend the Deepdean School for girls. The story is set in a boarding school surrounding with the typical set up of Mistresses and Masters for teachers and communal dormitories for the sleeping arrangements.
The story is about a murder Daisy and Hazel discover in the gym of the school and when the body disappears, the girls set up a secret Detective Society to solve the crime. The body disappears and the story is then centred around which of the teachers had the motive to kill the teacher, Miss Bell and what evidence the girls gather against them. Daisy is the typical dominant personality of the girl’s relationship and is the one that always has to be right (but of course is not). Hazel is the underdog who rarely gets a word in edgeways but is the smarter of the two and ultimately shines in solving the murders.
The scene is set with there being a love triangle between three of the teachers and also a deputy headmistress position being vacant. All the backdrops for motive for murder. Daisy and Hazel analyse the motive and alibis for each of the teachers at school and work on a process of elimination. Then there is a twist of a second murder which is covered up by suggesting it was suicide and the girls have to use all of their detective skills to find out who is responsible.
Through great detective skills and working together Daisy and Hazel find the culprit with a twist in the story that doesn’t relate to the original plots around the love triangle and deputy headmistress vacancy. I’ll not detail these or it will spoil the ending…
There are lots of things that children will be able to relate to in this book such as setting up secret ‘clubs’, the well liked and the horrible teachers, those teachers who are together outside of school, the legends of past students who died mysteriously and many more. However, there are adult themes throughout such as same sex couples, adoption, suicide and other ‘grown up’ references. Some I felt like the pantomime innuendos where only the adults would get the jokes. Certainly, my daughter didn’t really think about the underlying suggestions and she felt the plot was too complicated.
In my opinion, I think the 9+ age range for the way this book is written is too young but limited up to early teens given the childishness of the storyline. I’m not sure if writer included the adult references to try and keep older children interested in a simplistic plot. This leaves me mixed about what age range would enjoy this book. I would say early teens may find it too childlike.
Overall, the concept of the story would suit a younger audience but it is written in such a way that they wouldn’t really understand all the details and likely to get lost along the 300+ pages of this book. For these reasons I have given this a 3 out of 5 overall.
RRP: £6.99 (paperback) / £3.99 (Kindle)
Available to buy from Amazon here.