How do you like your murder? Served with a little dim sum on the side, perhaps?
Tonight’s book review is of Robin Stevens’ A Spoonful of Murder, which is the seventh title in the hugely popular Murder Most Unladylike series, published by Puffin Book. And it’s a fortune cookie of a cracking read!
Although my primary school was on holiday for the last fortnight, I’ve not had much of a break as I’ve been teaching English GCSE revision classes to students. Feeling a little sorry for myself, I popped into Blackwell’s for some comfort reading, and came out revived and excited with my own copy (well, soon to be the Library’s copy!) of A Spoonful of Murder.
What the book’s about: Hazel Wong is at Deepdean boarding school when she receives the sad news that her grandfather has died. Her father asks her to return to Hong Kong to be present for the mourning period and Hazel agrees, as long as she can bring Daisy with her. When Hazel and Daisy arrive by boat in Hong Kong, Hazel is disappointed that her father isn’t there to greet her personally. However, a larger shock is in store when she walks through the door to her family home; her father’s ‘second’ wife has given birth to a son, Teddy, and her father worships him in the same way that he used to revere his eldest daughter.
Hazel’s nose is put firmly out of joint but she doesn’t have long to dwell on it. Teddy is kidnapped on a trip to the Dr’s and his personal maid, Su Li, is murdered. As well as dealing with the tragedy, Hazel has to cope with another horrible realisation: she is one of the suspects. Therefore, she and Daisy set forth to find out who the real culprit is – to avenge Su Li and bring Teddy safely back home.
Why it’s a cracker (or fortune cookie)
I have loved the Murder Most Unladylike mysteries ever since they first came out and I read them with Holly. They are the perfect combination of a boarding-school story with a traditional whodunit: Enid Blyton meets Agatha Christie but with more humour and a real richness in writing. This latest instalment doesn’t disappoint. We have a mystery and tea and buns (although the latter two are quite different to the usual ones Daisy and Hazel enjoy in the UK – the glossary gives some great details on the different food types and makes you hungry). But we also have a real insight into life in Hong Kong in the 1930s and this is all thanks to the enormous research Robin Stevens carried out while writing this book, seeking advice from friends who know and even spending part of her honeymoon there. The results pay off handsomely – she really evokes the busyness of the city – the sights, the smells and the sounds.
The intricacies of the mystery held me on tenterhooks too; I didn’t guess the culprit at all! Unfortunately for me, that means I won’t be an honorary member of the Detective Society. But it does mean I can still follow their adventures in the next book and talk about this with the many fans Robin Stevens has at St Michael’s, who will be queueing to borrow A Spoonful of Murder as soon as it’s on the shelf.