Two friends form a detective agency—and must solve their first murder case—in this “sharp-witted debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) that is the first adventure in a brand-new middle grade mystery series set at a 1930s boarding school.
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are best friends at Deepdean School for Girls, and they both have a penchant for solving mysteries. In fact, outspoken Daisy is a self-described Sherlock Holmes, and she appoints wallflower Hazel as her own personal Watson when they form their own (secret!) detective agency. The only problem? They have nothing to investigate.
But that changes once Hazel discovers the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell—and the body subsequently disappears. She and Daisy are certain a murder must have taken place, and they can think of more than one person with a motive.
Determined to get to the bottom of the crime—and to prove that it happened—before the killer strikes again, Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects, and use all the cunning, scheming, and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
Previously published as Murder Most Unladylike in the UK.
This is the first murder that the Wells & Wong Detective Society has ever investigated, so it is a good thing Daisy bought me a new casebook. The last one was finished after we solved The Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie. The solution to that, of course, was that Clementine stole it in revenge for Lavinia punching her in the stomach during lacrosse, which was Lavinia’s revenge for Clementine telling everyone Lavinia came from a broken home. I suspect the solution to this new case may be more complex.
I suppose I ought to give some explanation of ourselves, in honor of the new casebook. Daisy Wells is the president of the Detective Society, and I, Hazel Wong, am its secretary. Daisy says that this makes her Sherlock Holmes, and me Watson. This is probably fair. After all, I am much too short to be the heroine of this story, and who ever heard of a Chinese Sherlock Holmes?
That’s why it’s so funny that it was me who found Miss Bell’s dead body. In fact, I think Daisy is still upset about it, though of course she pretends not to be. You see, Daisy is a heroine-like kind of person, and so it should be her that these things happen to.
Look at Daisy and you think you know exactly the sort of person she is—one of those dainty, absolutely English girls with blue eyes and golden hair; the kind who’ll gallop across muddy fields in the rain clutching a hockey stick and then sit down and eat ten cinnamon rolls at tea. I, on the other hand, bulge all over like Bibendum the Michelin Man; my cheeks are moony-round and my hair and eyes are stubbornly dark brown.
I arrived from Hong Kong partway through seventh grade, and even then, when we were all still shrimps (shrimps, for this new casebook, is what we call the little sixth- and seventh-grade girls), Daisy was already famous throughout Deepdean School. She rode horses, was part of the lacrosse team, and was a member of the Drama Club. The Big Girls, which is what we call the girls in the top grades, took notice of her, and by May the entire school knew that the head girl herself—Deepdean’s most important Big Girl—had called Daisy a “good sport.”
But that is only the outside of Daisy, the jolly-good-show part that everyone sees. The inside of her is not jolly-good-show at all.
Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in Oxford, England, across the road from the house where Alice of Alice in Wonderland lived. Robin has been making up stories all her life. She spent her teenage years at boarding school, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She studied crime fiction in college and then worked in children’s publishing. Robin now lives in London with her pet bearded dragon, Watson.
"A pitch-perfect snapshot of adolescent friendship... A sharp-witted debut for Stevens, one that will leave readers eagerly awaiting subsequent installments."
– Publishers Weekly* STARRED REVIEW
“Nancy Drew, meet Wells and Wong.”
"[A] delightful romp....This book, the first in a series, is a "jolly good read," one which intermediate girls will enjoy and share."
– School Library Connection
"[A] first-rate homage to English boarding school adventure and period murder-mystery tales....Middle-schoolers with a taste for Agatha Christie (and perhaps PBS costume or mystery dramas) will eat this up and ask for more."
– The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s
“Wells and Wong . . . leave readers eager to read more of their appealing tales."
– Shelf-Awareness Pro
"Stevens’s engaging tale shines with the reflected charms of its detecting duo, a winsome combination of thoughtfulness and relish."
– School Library Journal
"[H]ighly enjoyable bunbreak reading."
– Shelf Awareness
"A skillful blend of golden era crime novel and boarding school romp, with a winning central relationship between plump, anxious Hazel, a new girl who has arrived from Hong Kong, and the super-confident blonde English rose, Daisy Wells. The novel works well both as an affectionate satire and an effective mystery story. . . . Top class."
– Suzie Feay, Financial Times
"Satisfyingly unpredictable. I did not guess the whodunit. Ripping good fun."
– Alex O'Connell, The Times of London
"Friendship, boarding school, and a murder worthy of Agatha Christie."
– The Bookseller
"Really cleverly done and unexpected for what I thought would be a straightforward whodunit caper."
– Melissa Cox, Head Children's Buyer at Waterstones
"Reading Murder Is Bad Manners is like drinking cocoa by a fireside: It is warm and witty and deeply satisfying."
– Katherine Rundell, author of ROOFTOPPERS and CARTWHEELING IN THUNDERSTORMS
"Murder Is Bad Manners lured me in with a charming British voice, and then, just as I started to get cozy, snap! I was trapped in a serious mystery problem. Robin Stevens develops her girl detectives with a light, deft touch and delivers denouement with a flourish."
– Nancy Springer, author of the Enola Holmes series
“Robin Stevens's MURDER IS BAD MANNERS is what I wish every mystery could be: a perfectly-plotted puzzle told in a deft and charming voice. The story is a brilliant mixture of classic detective work and contemporary humor—I enjoyed every page!”—
– Jonathan Auxier, author of The Night Gardener and Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes