“We were all looking up, and so we missed the murder.
I have never seen Daisy so furious. She has been grinding her teeth (so hard that my teeth ache in sympathy) and saying ‘Oh, Hazel! How could we not notice it? We were on the spot!'”
Oh, I Say!
The superb series of Wells and Wong mysteries continues with Jolly Foul Play, suitable for readers aged nine plus, and we’re back for autumn term at Deepdean boarding school with Daisy and Hazel. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book series, we are joining the girls at the tail end of 1935. And guess what? That’s right, there’s been a murder, and this time right under their noses!
Deepdean’s not so beloved head girl Elizabeth (scores highly on the Bad-Egg-O-Meter) has been bumped off by some ne’er-do-well. There are plenty of girls motivated to commit the crime, but who could have actually done it?
Daisy and Hazel are joined by a select band of fellow fourth formers in their Detective Society, as they attempt to solve the murder. Things are unsettled this year though: Elizabeth’s death has caused disparity and unrest amongst the girls. The atmosphere around school has changed. Also, it seems that Daisy and Hazel are not quite as close as they once were. How will The Detective Society be affected and will the girls pull together for the greater good and expose the killer in time?
This is the fourth Murder Most Unladylike Mystery, but new readers may rest assured that they will need no great knowledge of previous events in order to enjoy Jolly Foul Play. My advice however, would be to read the lot as this is a cracking series with plenty of really satisfying character development running throughout. If you’ve enjoyed one, you’ll certainly love the rest.
The mysteries are riveting to read and challenging to solve. Actually, I have to admit that with Jolly Foul Play, this is the first time I’ve managed to identify the murderer. (I say identify, but it would be more accurate to tell you that I changed my mind many, many times before lucking out and stumbling on guilty party in the nick of time. I know. Daisy would be ashamed of me and my haphazard methods.)
The fun is in the trying though, and I was helped along by the glorious maps at the start of the book and also the list of Deepdean players. This list is especially useful as there are quite a lot of characters, many of whom will be new to even the most dedicated Wells and Wong fan. It’s good to be able to check up on who’s who when you need to.
Jolly Foul Play has further established Robin Stevens to be a treasure amongst children’s authors. Whilst fans of Blyton will be delighted to note the inclusion of midnight feasts and an entertaining Mamzelle, make no mistake, this is no retro rehash. Stevens, as I’ve said in previous reviews, is a brilliant mystery writer who understands her time frame inside out and makes it work for modern mini-sleuths. I love that she brings murder into a Blytonesque boarding school; it makes me think how long poor old Gwendoline Mary Lacey would have lasted at Malory Towers under such circumstances…
Given that this is my third review of the Wells and Wong mystery series, you’re safe to assume that I’m a fan. They’re all quite different in premise and execution, no pun intended, so it’s no wonder young readers keep returning for more.
Another wonderful book from Robin Stevens: Jolly Foul Play is the perfect way to kill a few hours.
You can check out Robin Stevens’ glorious website here.
And my previous reviews of other books in the series here (Arsenic for Tea) and here (First Class Murder).