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Review: Murder is Bad Manners

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Murder is Bad Manners (Wells & Wong Mystery Book 1)

By Robin Stevens • ★★★★★

I don't normally read middle-grade or YA fiction (well, okay, Harry Potter), but after hearing Robin Stevens interviewed on a podcast, I was intrigued by her Wells & Wong series.

There's nothing about this book that isn't just as grown-up as an Agatha Christie mystery. Yes, there's no swearing, minimal gore, and only the barest hint of any characters gettin' busy, but the themes and complications are thought-provoking, and the mystery is just as twisty and inspired as anything targeted at grownups. Stevens sets this series at a girls' boarding school in 1930s England, and the narrator, Hazel Wong, has to deal with racism and colonialist attitudes (which can be excellent fodder for discussion with your child, if they're of the right age). But it never feels preachy or heavy. The characters are well-drawn, and I didn't solve the mystery before Wells & Wong did.

This is a fantastic book whether you're a middle-schooler or a grownup. If you're a fan of British Mysteries (whether classics like Christie or newer authors like Faith Martin) or even just a fan of Veronica Mars, you'll be both delighted and thrilled by this book. I've just purchased the second book—the stack of twenty tomes on my bedside table is just going to have to wait.