Occasionally Fiona and I find books that feel like the Blyton books we so know and love. Modern authors can sometimes channel our beloved authoress and we do our best to find them and bring them to your attention.
Robin Stevens is a new author to me, and I haven’t seen anything else by her until I came across Murder Most Unladylike in Waterstones a while back. The book has been on my shelf to read for ages, and when I found a cut-price copy of the third book I knew I had to get reading.
Set in 1930’s England, in a boarding school that reminds me of Malory Towers, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong make up the Detective Society at Deepdean Boarding school. It’s never actually specified where Deepdean is, but its possible it has sea-side leanings, well I would imagine it to have those because that is where part of the Blyton magic comes in.
Daisy Wells is a sort of know-it-all joker who strongly resembles Alicia Johns from the Malory Towers books. Hazel Wong however, a girl from Hong Kong placed in the school at her father’s insistence to become a proper English girl with a proper education, is possibly a bit of a mix of sensible Sally Hope, and terribly unfit Gwendoline Lacy. Hazel does not have a bad bone in her body however, which is what makes her like Sally, but she is overly fond of cakes, which leads us to Gwendoline. Either way, the girls are fantastic characters and really carry the plot along!
Its written in the style of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Hazel acting as the Doctor Watson, and Daisy as Holmes. These names are mentioned several times in the book, and Daisy often calls Hazel her Watson. The fact that Hazel writes the notes of the story up, helps with the very Sherlockian perception of Daisy and her brilliant ideas.
We follow the girls through the rough and tumble of school life as unexpectedly, one of their school mistresses is murdered. Hazel discovers the body and Daisy decides that this is the case the Detective Society has been waiting for and they launch into operations a la The Five Find-Outers.
Honestly, I don’t know how to explain much of this book without giving its brilliant plot away. Its worth a read, nice, short chapters for those who prefer that sort of writing and the lack of technology is pleasing and everything is solved through wits and observations. The whole book has a lovely nostalgic feeling running through it, as everything is worked out logically and methodically but with that childish flair.
I would honestly recommend this book to anyone who wants something new to read, young or old, and especially for someone who wants to have another boarding school experience! The Wells and Wong mysteries are sitting on my bookshelves waiting to be read and I can’t wait to get cracking on the next one.
Please do give it a try and let me know what you think? I do think that Robin Stevens is one to watch, especially from a Blyton Point of View!