I love a good mystery; I love to read and watch them and have been waiting to share them with Miss 11. When her friend bought her a Murder Most Unladylike book for her birthday last year, I was thrilled to see that someone had written a murder mystery for kids that she could read before moving on to the classics. That someone is Robin Stevens, who has now published five books in the Murder Most Unladylike series and Miss 11 and I are hooked.
The series chronicles the adventures of Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells as they solve murders that just seem to keep happening wherever they find themselves. Hazel has travelled to England from Hong Kong to attend Deepdean School for Girls, and with her new friend, Daisy Wells, they form a secret detective society.
The Murder Most Unladylike series lets readers visit the world of English boarding schools in the 1930s through Hazel’s eyes with its clothing, food and customs, yet they also deal with the age old problems of teenage girls: friendship quarrels, grumpy teachers and gossip. Hazel struggles to adjust to her new life at first but is a bright, empathetic and relatable hero who has a healthy amount of fear when faced with dead bodies and murderers. Daisy, on the other hand, is full of charm and bravado. She is far keener to drop everything and dive in when mysteries present themselves.
Robin Stevens’ stories are full of humour, fun and mystery, with plenty of food to drool over when the girls’ stop work for bun break (morning tea). The regular characters feel like friends and the new characters in each book are intriguing and memorable.
I love that Robin Stevens has added much needed diversity to a genre that in the past has been homogeneous, and where the rare diverse characters were often the villains.
The mysteries Hazel and Daisy solve are always intriguing and keep Miss 11 and me guessing until the very end. There is just enough peril to keep us on the edge of our seats, without being too frightening for the target audience. Mr 9 has nearly finished the first Murder Most Unladylike mystery and is full of theories. He loves it. The only downside is now there’ll be three of us fighting over who gets to read the next book first!
While the first five novels in the series each contain a murder that is solved over the course of the story, Cream Buns and Crime is a delightful tuck box of goodies. We find out what happened when Hazel and Daisy solved their first mystery – The Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie, as well as several other mini mysteries. Cream Buns and Crimes also contains tips from Daisy on detection as well as her favourite fictional detectives. Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Poirot rate a mention including some I’d never read before, such as Inspector Alan Grant and Lord Peter Whimsy. But perhaps one of the best parts of the latest book is the recipes for treats eaten by Hazel and Daisy during their many bun breaks, such as squashed fly biscuits, fudge and moon cakes.
Miss 11 and I thoroughly enjoyed Cream Buns and Crime and we’re eagerly awaiting Robin Steven’s next Wells and Wong mystery.
Cream Buns and Crime was written by Robin Stevens and published by Penguin.
Post book activity
We just had to try out one of the recipes from Cream Buns and Crime. While I was intrigued by Squashed Fly Biscuits, Miss 11 and I were very keen on having a go at making jam tarts. We were catching up with friends for afternoon tea, so it was the perfect opportunity to try out the recipe.
I love baking but am no good at pastry. Fortunately the recipe in the book was easy to follow. Miss 11 had fun getting her hands into the dough, cutting out the pastry rounds and dolloping raspberry jam onto them. I cut out tiny flowers to stick on the top to use up the leftover pastry.
The result was a pile of tiny tarts that were fun to make and nearly all devoured within minutes of serving them. Deepdean School for Girls might be a murderous place to go to school, but golly, those girls eat well!
What recipe would you like to taste from a favourite book?