Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells & Wong Mystery (Wells & Wong Mystery, #1)

by Robin Stevens

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

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Adding these write-ups of my backlog in no particular order, just the one that most leaps up as being remembered gets written about first. If I can remember how to structure sentences that is; that last one puts me in doubt.

I borrowed this from my daughter’s bookshelves - she read it ages back. It’s a mystery set in a girl’s school in the 1930s and I know it’s been well received. I was intrigued as to how the school setting would be handled by a modern author, I read plenty of original 1930s school stories as a child and in retrospect they were often formulaic, class-ist, sexist, racist and probably a lot more. And I was also interested in how the murder mystery element would be handled in a book aimed at pre-teens.

I’m pleased to say that both my worries were assuaged. Making the narrator non-white and an outsider in the school system - she’s from Hong Kong - was a great move of the author’s. Rather than just smoothing over the 1930s sensibilities and making everyone act nicely the issue is addressed head-on in the way the narrator is treated by some of the other characters in the book. And the mystery too is very well set up and resolved. Obviously I’m not going to give away the plot but I was pleased it was set up as definitely a murder with no hedging of “maybe it was an accident” to confuse the reader, and that the solution was something that made sense from a 1930s point of view but that would resonate with readers today and highlight some of the things that have changed in the last 85 years.

All in all it was very well done. I expected it to be pretty good, and was satisfied.