If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Robin Stevens and her Murder Most Unladylike series. It takes me right back to my childhood and the boarding school books I used to read (I say used to, but I still have a complete set of Chalet School books which get read regularly!), while making sure the kids of today love them just as much. A Spoonful of Murder is the most recent volume, and I made sure I had it pre-ordered so it arrived on release day!
When Hazel Wong’s beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel’s family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong. But when they arrive they discover something they didn’t expect: there’s a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn’t just the detective. She’s been framed for murder! The girls must work together like never before, confronting dangerous gangs, mysterious suspects and sinister private detectives to solve the murder and clear Hazel’s name – before it’s too late . . .
Obviously, I loved A Spoonful of Murder. Possibly not as much as I loved Mistletoe and Murder, the previous novel in the series, but it’s still a brilliant book. My favourite thing was the way that being in Hong Kong meant Hazel was in charge and Daisy didn’t always know what was going on. It was a fantastic reversal of the usual dynamic, and it was great fun to see Daisy think about her attitude towards Hazel. I mentioned in my review of Mistletoe and Murder last year that Robin Stevens does an amazing job portraying the racism that Hazel faces on an everyday basis, even from her best friend, and this book is no exception, although it takes a slightly different angle.
The plot (which I’m not going to spoil for you here) races along as usual, as Daisy and Hazel struggle to solve the murder of a maid and the kidnapping of Hazel’s new baby brother. I always like it when the mystery strikes close to home for these two, because the importance of family to both of them is something that shines through all the books. No-one is more important to Hazel than her father, and it’s really interesting to see more of that after the events of First Class Murder.
It’s also very interesting to learn more about Hazel’s life away from Deepdean, and about Hong Kong in general. Because this is as new to Daisy as it is to us, she acts as our eyes, and I loved her astonishment at realising just how rich Hazel’s family is. As I said above, it’s good to see Daisy thinking about how she acts with Hazel – the events of this book make her realise she doesn’t really know that much about Hazel’s life at home. I thought there was also a good exploration of how her father suddenly having a son might change Hazel’s life dramatically.
Robin Stevens always manages to pack so much into her books that they really are a masterclass in writing, and A Spoonful of Murder is no exception. While I would highly recommend it if you’re up to date with the books (and if you are, I doubt you need my recommendation – you’ve probably already read it!), I definitely wouldn’t jump into the series here, because you’re not going to get the same depth out of it. Go back to the beginning (Murder Most Unladylike) and savour the entire series as it was intended, and you’ll be as hooked as I am on Robin’s books!