8 May 2022

Review: A SPOONFUL OF MURDER, Robin Stevens

  • this edition made available on Libby by my local library
  • Published: 2 April 2018
  • ISBN: 9780141373782
  • #6 Murder Most Unladylike series.
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Pages: 384

Synopsis (Penguin)

The gripping new mystery in the award-winning, bestselling Murder Most Unladylike series.

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 . . . 

My Take

As I said in my earlier post, the "chooser" in our monthly book group has set a challenge. We are reading 3 cozies that all share the same title. I reviewed the first here, here is the second, and the last  will shortly follow.

The year is 1936 (we know because as Hazel and Daisy are sailing to Hong Kong via the Suez Canal the news comes that King George V has died), and so the time frame is almost 80 years ago. It is therefore before World War II and Hong Kong then is very different to the Hong Kong of today.

The voyage from England to Hong Kong takes 30 days, and when Hazel arrives she finds it isn't just the absence of her grandfather that is different. She now has a little brother whom nobody has told her about, and the maid who used to look after her is now her brother's nursemaid. In addition, her baby brother now has her old room.

A few days after her arrival, Hazel's baby brother is kidnapped and held for ransom, and Hazel and Daisy begin trying to work out who has taken him. 

This is essentially a book for a young adolescent reader, part of a series that presumably he/she is already hooked on. The author tries valiantly to introduce the reader to the culture of Hong Kong. We are also told the back story of the Detective Society which Hazel and Daisy have founded, and which has already successfully pursued five investigations.

It occurs to me that one of the questions I should have posed in my review of the previous book was the significance of the title. To be quite honest, I can't see any relevance in the case of this book, and only remotely in the case of the previous one. There are two murders in this one, one by stabbing, and one by gunshot, so I think the title is a bit random.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Here are ten absolutely true things about me:

  1. I am a woman. I really am! I do get a lot of letters addressed to ‘Mr Stevens’, though.
  2. I have a pet bearded dragon named Watson, and she is a girl too.
  3. I was born in California, and I moved to England when I was three. This means that I have two passports (like a spy), and that I could be the President of the USA and the Prime Minister at the same time if I wanted to be. If this writing thing doesn’t work out, I might consider it.
  4. I grew up in Oxford, across the road from Alice in Wonderland. If she hadn’t been Victorian and fictional, I think we could have been friends.
  5. When I was little, I wanted to own a zoo and write books about it. I also wanted to be married to Gerald Durrell. I dreamed big.
  6. Colin Dexter once sent me a fan letter. I met him when I was twelve and told him that when I grew up I was going to write murder mysteries. I must have been really insistent, because he believed me.
  7. I really did go to an English boarding school, Cheltenham Ladies College. And I really did sleep in a dorm, and learn Latin, and have school on Saturday mornings. I never detected a murder, though, which was a bit of a disappointment.
  8. I’ve been on University Challenge! I was the Captain of the Warwick University team. We didn’t win, unfortunately, but I did get to meet Jeremy Paxman.
  9. When I was at university, I did my MA on crime fiction. So I really do have a degree in murder.
  10. I used to work as an editor, helping other authors get their books published, but today I’m lucky enough to be a full-time author!

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