I can’t take a picture of my copies YET as I bought/borrowed them as ebooks to read during evenings/nights getting Peapod back to sleep! But the first and last have sprayed edges now, so I’m hoping this is in the pipeline for all of them and will be buying them all as they come out like that!
Way back at the start of 2018 I was sent a copy of A Spoonful of Murder from the publishers to read and review. I really enjoyed it and made the decision to go back and read the whole series in order…and then everything else (new books, life, having a baby) took over and its only in the last couple of months I’ve managed to do it by using the ebooks on my phone in the evenings whilst settling Peapod.
I won’t do a full review of them all, but in place of a WWW Wednesday this week, I’ll give a brief rundown and my (hopefully spoiler free) thoughts on the series overall (basically I love it). So, let’s begin…
Murder Most Unladylike
In which we meet Hazel and Daisy at Deepdean and see them solve Miss Bell’s murder.
I really enjoyed this – I loved Hazel as a narrator and, although I didn’t warm to Daisy in quite the same way, I really liked getting to know them and Deepdean with its Big Girls and bunbreaks and tuck boxes and prep.
I really like the pages of notes summarising the suspects and case so far too. Although I was still useless at guessing who the murderer was!
Arsenic for Tea
Maybe because I still hadn’t properly warmed to Daisy yet (or maybe just the toffs in country houses vibe) but this was a book that divided me a bit.
I found Daisy’s family hard work (apart from Uncle Felix who had enough mischief to save him!) and while I know some of them (no spoilers) were likely intended to be less than loveable, others should have elicited a bit of sympathy at least but just grated on me.
That said – I loved the actual murder, the setting and way it took place, and I thought Miss Alston was a brilliant character, as was the victim (though one in a very likeable way and one in a list despicable one!)and yet again I couldn’t guess who did it!
Hazel and her support of Daisy endeared herself to me even more, and I even softened a bit towards Daisy too.
First Class Murder
I really enjoyed this, I thought the setting of the Orient Express was so much fun and I liked seeing a bit more of Hazel’s background and personality too through having her dad with her on the trip.
I also liked meeting Alexander and seeing them gradually (and in Daisy’s case begrudgingly!) begin to make friends and work together.
I thought the cast of suspects was brilliant in this one too and I got a bit closer to guessing this time but I think Daisy would still take a dim view of my detecting skills!
Jolly Foul Play
This was probably my least favourite of the series. It took me a lot longer to get into, and while I did very much get into it in the end and there was lots I really enjoyed, the heavy school/friendship groups and relationships themes weren’t really my thing. However, I have to say they were very relatable and well-written. In particular, Daisy and Hazel’s falling out was very hard to read as it felt so believable and I was willing them to make up!
What I did really enjoy in this one was the inclusion of Kitty, Lavinia and Beanie in the Detective Society’s activities!
Mistletoe and Murder
I nearly skipped this temporarily so I could go back to it at Christmas, but in the end I listened to Amy‘s (my Murder Most Unladylike guru!) advice to read it in order and I’m so glad I did!
I really loved this one. I loved the Cambridge setting, which was described so vividly, as was life there. And I was pleased to see the way it really highlighted the disparity between men and women there too.
I also liked both Daisy (who had been steadily growing on me since book 1) and her brother Bertie (who I really wasn’t all that keen on in AfT) an awful lot more in this one.
There were some excellent characters/suspects and I was pleased to see The Junior Pinkertons join the investigation (although I have to confess, I’m with Daisy and much prefer George to Alexander!)
The Christmas morning ending was so festive it will rival a Hogwarts Christmas in my fond, Christmas scenes in books memories too!
Cream Buns and Crime
I’m cheating a bit and using my WWW Wednesday post comments on this one, as they sum it up very well!
Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens (ebook)
This is a really fun addition to the series with shorter mysteries from The Detective Society and The Junior Pinkertons, as well as recipes, code breaking puzzles and information about real unsolved crimes and authors.
I loved that a lot of it was written ‘by’ Daisy and it has firmly cemented her place in my affections after an uncertain start. She’s bloody brilliant and I love her.
My favourite parts have to be Daisy being a ghost which absolutely cracked me up and the chapter written by Beanie and Kitty – I loved hearing more from them, Beanie especially who I think is wonderful!
A Spoonful of Murder
And so we’re back to the book I started with. I toyed with not re-reading this as I was desperate to read the latter books that I’d not yet read, but in the end decided to see how it differed this time around having read the previous books.
The conclusion being, unsurprisingly, that I loved it even more! Although I knew there was a change in the character dynamics when I read it first, I couldn’t really appreciate it until I’d read the lead up and having done so, seeing Hazel become the confident, knowledgeable one and Daisy on less sure footing was even better to read.
The Hong Kong setting and reading more about Hazel’s family, life and background was fantastic and clearly well-researched. And the mystery, which I didn’t guess as I knew from the first time round, is a cracker.
I think my favourite thing about this is seeing no-nonsense, buck-up Daisy’s unwavering and utter support and comfort for Hazel. Written in a really believable way that absolutely fits their characters and friendship, it was lovely to see.
The Case of the Missing Treasure
A short, fun mini mystery. This was enjoyable to read and set the scene well for…
Death in the Spotlight
I loved this so much. It’s hard to say why without giving too much away but there’s…
- A fantastic setting
- Uncle Felix and Mrs M (back on governess duties and doing a commendable job!)
- The dramatic appearance of an old comrade of The Detective Society which made me grin!
- A little bit of Hong Kong Hazel back in London – including a very daring un-Hazel-ish mission!
- The Junior Pinkertons
- Equality and LGBT issues and representation is dealt with subtly but amazingly powerfully too
- The BEST plot twists
- Daisy and Hazel’s characters and friendship becoming even deeper and more brilliant.
- So many obstacles to solving the case!
Phew! Just fab!
Top Marks for Murder
We’re back at Deepdean once more but so much has changed and Daisy especially is feeling it, but there’s nothing like a good murder to take her mind off things and bring her back to her usual self!
Just as clever and twisty in a very different way to Death in the Spotlight, I could not guess this one – or rather I could claim to have guessed since I pretty much suspected everyone at some point!
I loved seeing Kitty, Lavinia and Beanie really involved in this one too. I think their characters have grow n and grown over the series and it was lovely to really spend some time with them in this as they’re all do different and all great in their own ways (Lavinia and Beanie especially, sorry Kitty!)
I was also hugely pleased to see Inspector Priestley who is one of my favourite characters in the books and I really liked the way he was ‘deployed’.
I think what this series, and this book especially, does incredibly well is to take everyday issues of growing up, family life, changes, friendships and relationships and deal with them really well in the background. They never become ‘issues’ books but you will find yourself and situations you encounter I these books, as will all their young readers, and there’s a great comfort in that.
I love, love, LOVE this series. It has left a hole in my reading life, so I’m very much hoping there’ll be another one sooner than soon!
Thank you to Amy for keeping them on my radar and making sure I read them all eventually – I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed them all!
Have you read the series? Which is your favourite? Are you a Hazel or a Daisy (or one of the other characters!)?