Author: Robin Stevens
336 Pages-Ages 10 and up
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 26, 2016
Summary (from amazon.com):
Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t about Daisy after all—and she is furious. But Daisy’s anger falls to the wayside when one of their guests falls seriously and mysteriously ill—and everything points to poison. It’s up to Daisy and Hazel to find out what’s really going on.
With wild storms preventing everyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem—and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy begins to act suspiciously, the Detective Society does everything they can to reveal the truth…no matter the consequences.
Recently I’ve gotten into Agatha Christie. I just keep reading mystery after mystery by her. This book was nice because it had the same type of feel as Agatha Christie, but it’s not as convoluted. When they call Agatha Christie the Queen of Mystery they aren’t kidding. Sometimes the motive behind the Agatha Christie books is just ridiculous (ridiculous in the good way, as in I would never in a million years see that coming). Poison is not Polite has the benefits of giving off the same vibe as Christie’s books, but having a much simpler case to deal with. In the Agatha Christie books I usually give up trying to guess who did it because frankly I’m never even close, but Robin Steven’s manages to write a mystery that the readers, who aren’t naturally sharp sleuths, can follow along with a make guesses as to who done it and why. True, not all of the cards are on the table, but the girls present enough evidence so that if you happen to not be Hercule Poirot you can still make an educated guess and possibly be right.
The setting for this book was great. The story takes place in the 1930’s, and when I think of the 1930’s what do I think of? The closed house murder at a garden party of course! (sort of). In addition to seeing Daisy’s fabulous house, we get to meet the other members of Daisy’s family as well as the some other guests. My favorite new characters were Hazel’s brother, Bertie, and Bertie’s friend, Stephen. I’m also glad that they changed the setting from the first book because, honestly, it seems a little too unrealistic if they just keep killing off teachers and/or students in the boarding school setting.
In the last Wells and Wong mystery I wasn’t able to guess who the guilty party was, but in this one I managed to guess who did it quite a bit before Hazel and Daisy did. However, the way that I managed to guess who did it was completely unorthodox. Instead of using the evidence at hand and figuring out the motive, I guessed solely on character/mystery tropes and the likelihood someone did it. I don’t want to explain in too much details why I guessed who did it because I don’t want to spoil anything, but even though I happened to be right I still enjoyed reading the mystery because I wasn’t positive and I couldn’t figure out the motive for killing Mr. Curtis. It was exciting watching the girls figure out who did it, because they needed hard evidence before they could accuse someone. They couldn’t just say, “Oh, in mysteries it’s usually the butler who does it!” (By the way it’s NOT the butler who does it; that’s just a very common overused mystery trope). Anyway, this mystery was definitely a well written page turner!
One thing I don’t understand is why the US edition feels that they need to change the title. Both titles are fine, I’m just extremely curious why the two editions have to have different titles. Maybe it’s a marketing thing?
I love that there is a character list before the story begins. There really aren’t all that many characters in this story and they are all so distinctive that it’s hard to get the mixed up, but all the same I appreciated the character list because if I wanted to take another look at the suspects it was easiest to just flip to the first page. Another neat thing that the author included was a map of Fallingford, both the inside of the house and the outside parts of the estate. The map gave me a much better understanding of the scenes and was also helpful in determining where the characters were at all times.
On a completely unrelated note, one thing that I always think of (courtesy of my brother) when I read “A Wells & Wong Mystery” on the cover is that Robin Stevens should have named her characters Daisy Wright and Hazel Wong so that it could read “A Wright and Wong Mystery.” (Haha. I know it’s not that funny, but it cracks me up every time I read it).
Overall, a delightful read. Highly recommended. Immediately (and I mean literary immediately) after finishing this book I wanted to pick up the next book in the series, First Class Murder. The US edition hasn’t been published yet (and won’t be until next year) so I was hoping that I could either find an independent seller that will sell the UK edition or get the kindle edition on amazon UK. I was so so so so so disappointed when I learned that you can’t buy UK kindle books in the US (who came up with that stupid idea???). I seriously contemplated having the UK edition shipped over to me, but the shipping and handling was around $14 for the $7 book, so I tearfully decided to wait for the US edition coming April 4, 2017 (that long???) Regardless, Poison is Not Polite was so good that I cannot wait to read the rest of this series.
If you need something to help hold you over until the next book comes out check out this exclusive short story Wells and Wong short story, The Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie: