Murder Is Bad Manners: A Wells and Wong Mystery - Robin Stevens

Well say hello to a combination of Nancy Drew, Veronica Mars and Blyton's boarding school books. Add to that a touch of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot and you've got it made!

Only this time it is 1934. Thirteen-year-old girls Hazel Wong(from Hong Kong) and Daisy Wells (from the English upper classes) have formed their own secret club, the Wells and Wong Detective Society at the Deepdean School for Girls in England. They are quite successful in digging up secrets from everybody in school, with Daisy the number one snoop. She is the perfect English girl, highly popular, and knows everything about everyone and she's good at it.

Hazel Wong is her side-kick, initially the quiet, polite one, meticulously clean and precise in everything she did. Until she discovered the secret to melt into the mass of girls in the school. Sloppiness and less-clean appearances were expected. It was the secret of the rich girls in school. Never show wealth! Whatever you were, never strive to be the brightest girl in class either! Mediocrity is the name of the game. Fake it. Act. Be good at it. Hazel was not only extremely intelligent, she also turned out to be the second best pretender in school. Daisy was the best. And that is the reason why they became the best of friends.

Prestige, honor, and tradition draw the best of the best to the school. Teachers were strictly selected for positions at the school. It was just the perfect set-up. Life was perfect.

But then Miss Bell was no longer at the school. She resigned, was the official announcement. Hazel knew better. She found Miss Bell's body in the gym, went for help, and when she returned, the body was gone!

The Wells and Wong Detective Society had suddenly their work cut out for them and they had to act fast to prevent the murderer from getting away with it. But oh dear, for every murder there is a murderer, and more skeletons appear out of nowhere in the closets! What to do!? 

COMMENTS: Hazel Wong is the young narrator of the tale and never ceases to keep up the lively, vivid energy of two thirteen-year-old girls. There's nothing childish about the story. The prose is funny, witty, innocent, wise. I constantly smiled and sniggered for the actions of these two ambitious girls and their dorm mates. 

I loved this whodunit. The drama managed to keep me totally immersed in the atmosphere of the time, the labyrinth of suspects, the guessing of motives and the neverending suspense.

The other reason why I loved this book, is because I attended a similar girls school. I felt so at home in the halls and dorms of the age old buildings and its occupiers. I totally identified with the characters. It was a superb trip down memory lane. Even the church pipe organ in the hall of Deepdean School for Girls was familiar. 

Overall I am of the opinion that this book is just as enjoyable for grown-ups as it is for teenage girls. Well-written, well-plotted and well-done.

The ARC was made available by Simon & Schuster through for review.

Thank you for the opportunity. What a delight!