Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells & Wong Mystery – Robin Stevens
Thoroughly enjoyed this witty, light-but-not-lightweight middle-grade murder mystery set in a 1930s girl’s boarding school in England.
Right from the start the first-person telling through the eyes of Hazel Wong, dispatched to Deepdean School for Girls from Hong Kong for a “proper” English education, gets a double thumbs-up. Cleverly, Robin Stevens has Hazel come from an Anglophile background – but she retains a healthy bemusement at weird English rituals, from school games to food. And Stevens doesn’t shy away from illustrating racism in the way Hazel is sometimes treated – lightly done, but no less on point for that.
The tale itself gallops along, with a host of interesting characters. At first I wondered how a murder in a school would be handled in such a way that the only investigators would be Hazel and her friend Daisy Wells, but that’s niftily dealt with and their investigation is completely believable. Some lovely twists in the tail too.
As a product of a girl’s boarding school myself (a few decades later, I’d like to point out!) I can confirm the authenticity of the setting, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Highly recommended.