This was a free paperback from Penguin, the publishers, because Bruce Gargoyle won it! They were only sending it to UK addresses, and Bruce very kindly nominated me to receive it.
I’m glad he did.
The fantastic new mystery from the author of Murder Most Unladylike.
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong [Wells and Wong is the series name] have returned to Deepdean for a new school term, but nothing is the same. There’s a new Head Girl, Elizabeth Hurst, and a team of Prefects – and these bullying Big Girls are certainly not good eggs.
Then, after the fireworks display on Bonfire Night, Elizabeth is found – murdered.
Many girls at Deepdean had reason to hate Elizabeth, but who might have committed such foul play? Could the murder be linked to the secrets and scandals, scribbled on scraps of paper, that are suddenly appearing around the school? And with their own friendship falling to pieces, how will Daisy and Hazel solve this mystery?
It seems anachronistic to read a new series of boarding school adventures set in the 1930s, especially as discussion of children’s books seems to emphasise that kids don’t read old-fashioned books these days; life before full access mobile internet appears beyond their attention span. So why does the publisher, Penguin, like the Wells and Wong series? It must do, since this is book 4, so I reckon they have a ready market for it, at least in the UK.
Having adjusted my thinking cap to pre-war schooling, I settled in to enjoy a jolly good romp, complete with midnight feasts and hockey sticks. The suspicion of [yet another] murder in the school sets our heroines Daisy and Hazel off with their secret detective society, which was in itself a well-written trauma of inclusivity. Could the other girls in their dorm be trusted to keep it secret?
What I particularly enjoyed were the twists and turns of the loyalties between the girls. Silly things blew up into mountains (and I’d like to thank a friend for the discussion of the absolute intensity of the teenage brain, since this is exactly what happens inside it) and only the true grit of an English school could overcome them. There were plenty of references to previous adventures, but nothing that got in the way of the story for a newbie. The past was explained, but not dwelt on, and absent friends remained absent in all but letter form. Jealousies raged, clues dropped into place, danger was overcome despite cavalier approaches to basic safety, especially when climbing drainpipes, and the school still sang its school song.
All in all, Jolly Foul Play is an enjoyable detective romp with young teen girls in a 1930s private school. Excellent pace, believable characters and spot on for the period. Recommended.