Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Book Review: Murder Most Unladylike By Robin Stevens 

By: Kyra Behl

Hear from one of our passionate young readers!

Murder Most Unladylike... The title gives it all away.It is the phenomenal first book in Robin Stevens' eight-book mystery series for children, followed quickly by Arsenic for TeaJolly Foul PlayDeath in the Spotlight and more. The novel is full of suspense, murder, drama, and a lot of other mysteries ready to be solved.  

The story is written in the style of a casebook, as it follows two schoolgirl detectives: Daisy Wells, a 10-year-old British girl, and Hazel Wong, a 10-year-old girl from Hong Kong and a new student at Deapdean High School. The plot of the novel revolves around the murder of Ms. Bell, an innocent science teacher who was next in line for the headmistress position, and the envy of many teachers. With the crime having taken place in the old school gym, could it have been any of them

Hearing the terrible news, Daisy and Hazel use this opportunity to start their own detective agency. My favourite phrase in the book is when Hazel shares her thoughts about how Daisy is "as cool as a cucumber about the situation" because it describes her attitude towards crime and problem-solving and portrays how tranquil she is throughout the book and what type of detective is. It also tickled my funny bone as it made me laugh immensely. I could never imagine a detective being compared to a cucumber because of the apprehension and curiosity they must feel while solving a crime, but Stevens' use of the phrase made me wonder about the combination of the two (a cucumber and a detective) and caused me to giggle. 

Since I was a little girl, I have always had a penchant towards problem-solving and mysteries, even so Murder Most Unladylike series is one of the few crime novels that I've read and it's certainly one of the best, having been passed down some of my mum's old Nancy Drew novels. (Yet another series that portrays the life of a young girl whose love for sleuthing never ends, as it causes snags for not just herself, but also friends and family.) Stevens has a wonderful style of writing, making her book easier to read, especially some of the chapters which, as mentioned earlier, were written in the style of a casebook, even noting alibis for each of the characters.   

In some chapters of the book, Daisy and Hazel's characters really resonated with me, and I was enamoured by their personalities and passion towards crime-solving and becoming part-time detectives at Deapdean high school. And while there are many reasons I'm intrigued and excited to try out the next book in the series, the main one is because of how impressive this first book was, and the number of recommendations I have received to read the next one: Arsenic for Tea. I never buy a book without reading a snippet of it, but somehow the blurb for this next novel has already compelled me to find out what happens next in the series. 

I would recommend this book to family and friends as it's an engrossing and once-in-a-lifetime read. The book isn't just about a case, it's also filled with humour and fun codes for readers to break, as well as many questions while reading through it: Will the girls be able to find the guilty murderer? Are they present at the school? Could it be a teacher or even a student? So don't hesitate the read the book, so you can also detect the real murderer. 

Inspired to write your own book review? Let us know! Still searching for the perfect book to capture your imagination and get those creative juices flowing? Check out one of our many book recommendation lists. Still not sure? Then watch our interview with none other than Marcus Zuzak, author of The Book Thief, down below. 

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Kyra Behl is a student at the Repton School, Dubai. She's interested in writing, golf, and playing the piano, having even self-published a collection of short stories. She has also represented her school in many concerts and tournaments, including playing at the prestigious Dubai Opera. She's fond of reading books, especially the crime fiction genre.