Saturday, 21 March 2015

Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

Series: Wells & Wong, Book Two
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Format: Paperback
Published29th January 2015
Number of Pages: 352
Book: Bought
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Historical, Suspense, Thriller, Action-Adventure, Middle Grade, YA, YA-Child Crossover
Recommended Age: 9+
Contains: Death, Mild Swearing and Alcohol References
Author's Site: Robin Stevens


I looked at Daisy.  Her eyes were glittering and her cheeks were pink.  This was Daisy with a Plan.

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays.  Daisy’s glamourous mother is throwing a tea part for her 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 at all.  (Naturally, Daisy is furious.)
Then one of the guests falls seriously, mysteriously, fatally ill – and everything points to poison.
Suddenly, Fallingford feels like a very dangerous place to be.  And when someone close to Daisy looks suspicious, the girls must reveal the truth… no matter the consequences.

“Daisy and I will both need to think like detectives again.  You see, just now we overheard something quite awful; something that proves that what happened to Mr Curtis was not simply an accident, or a sudden illness.  Someone did this to him, and that can only mean one thing: the Detective Society has a brand-new case to investigate…”
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong's Detective Society have already solved one huge mystery – the Murder of Miss Bell.  Now, on holiday from school at Daisy's home, they plan to attend the tea party Daisy's mother is throwing for Daisy and eat cake and deal with the extended Wells family.
Of course, this isn't what they end up doing, not when a guest mysteriously and suddenly becomes ill – the deadly kind of ill...
When Daisy and Hazel discover that his death wasn't accidental but was, in fact, murder – poison, to be precise – they of course have to investigate.
With everyone present turning from guests to suspects, Daisy's home Fallingford seems deadly dangerous...
It seems the Detective Society has a new case – one a little too close to home...
I absolutely adored Murder Most Unladylike, so of course I had to pick up a copy of Arsenic For Tea the moment I laid eyes on it in WHSmith.  I began reading the book in Costa, as you do, and was a hundred pages in before I could came up for air.  Oh, how I love this series!  It's the most fun, exciting and brilliant thing to read – I would happily read both Wells & Wong books back to back, over and over for a whole year.  And speaking of this year, a third book is coming out later in 2015!  I knew this was going to be the best year ever! 
Hazel has become a lot stronger since the events of MMU – and a much better detective too.  She's still the calm to Daisy's crazy, the emotion to Daisy's logic and the one who narrates the Detective Society's exploits.  I love Hazel!
I really don't know how Daisy kept it together for so long in Arsenic For Tea!  Poor girl.  But she was her smart, sneaky, cunning, witty, bossy self – and I loved it.  I also loved seeing more emotion from her, seeing her vulnerable side.   
This time Kitty and Beanie were allowed to join in with the detecting, something that added new depths to Hazel and Daisy's little partnership.  It showed just how brilliant the President and Vice President of the Detective Society are – and added extra mayhem to the mystery!  Kitty was funny and Beanie was sweet – and it was nice to get to know them better.
Now, I really don't want to say too much about the other characters – can't give away any spoilers! – but I will say they were a varied, bizarre and intriguing bunch!  Some were hilarious (Lord Hastings), some were curious (Miss Alston) and some were irritating (Lady Hastings).  But I felt each and every one of them were unpredictable, mysterious and intriguing.  I also had no freaking clue who the murderer was – like, no clue.  It's embarrassing... 
Oh, and it's cool – the Inspector had the same name as the author of An Inspector Calls – Priestley.  Great play – great inspector.  Although this isn't really anything to do with Arsenic For Tea.  Just noting it...  
Moving on from that, I absolutely adore Stevens' writing – it's so 1930s, so addictive and so brilliant.  I love Hazel's voice, the suspense, the humour and the heart.  It’s so brilliant!
Now, because the death in Arsenic For Tea happened in Daisy's own home, the plot was a lot more complicated than in Murder Most Unladylike, because the majority of the suspects were related to Daisy.  This, obviously, made the detecting feel much more urgent.  Letting Kitty and Beanie in on the secret on top of the personal angle made for an infinitely intriguing and exciting plot, one that kept me hooked and guessing from the first page to the very last.  Robin Stevens truly is a master of the whodunnit – and at making me scratch my head!  Bravo!  And I also like how the plots aren't as open-shut as they first seem.  The motives behind the murders are real – believable.  Like in this one... I kind of totally got it.
How I adore the Wells & Wong series!  It is just so much fun!  It makes me feel younger, smarter and more interesting – and I just have so, so much fun reading it!  I literally love everything about it and cannot wait for First Class Murder!  It can't come quickly enough!  I can't be without my two favourite detectives for too long!  I'll lose my detective-ing edge!
If you've deduced by the end of this review that I absolutely, totally and completely adore the Wells & Wong series, bravo!  Brilliant detective-ing!  If you've listened to the facts and done the smart thing, you will decide to go out right now and buy both Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic For Tea and read them on the floor in the bookshop.  Which is a brilliant idea – one I wholly support and one you won't regret!  
But I've talked your ear off, haven't I?  I apologise – I just loved Arsenic For Tea so much!  Before I go (and because Hazel is so fond of lists), I feel I should end this review with a little list of why EVERYONE EVERYWHERE must read the Wells & Wong series ASAP!  Here we go...
  • Murder mysteries have been proven to be good for the brain – especially murder mysteries set in the '30s in England following two brilliant school-girl detectives.
  • The girls are hilarious – mischievous, devious, sneaky, brilliant, clever, a little bonkers.  Basically, they are all such bricks!  (Read Wells & Wong to find out what brick means.)  You'll love the girls and will hold your breath as they sneak around, finding clues and questioning suspects without them even realising!
  • Arsenic For Tea is marvellously gripping!  It will suck you in, hold you tight and not let you go 'til the very end.  It is more addictive than bun breaks!
  • You never know who the murderer is – you literally suspect everyone and are left on the tip of your toes like Hazel and Daisy, watching everyone and trying to detect their secrets.
  • Reading a Wells & Wong book is more fun and more addictive than watching Scooby Doo while drinking tea (arsenic-free), eating chocolate and reading a good book.  Which is one of the most addictive scenarios I've ever encountered.  Which means this book is seriously hardcore.
  • It's set in the '30s!  This leads to all kinds of awesome words, (occasionally) wonderful manners, Lords, Ladies, butlers and lots of other awesomeness that's enough to make a girl want to invent a time machine, hop inside, and pop back in time.  Trust me, if you read it, you'll want the exact same thing!
  • Now, who here didn't want to be Sherlock Holmes as a kid?  Exactly!  Everyone wanted to be Sherlock!  Well, this book lets you live your dream and have so much fun doing it!
  • If you don't read the Wells & Wong series, you'll be a dreadfully bad sport – and you wouldn't want that.  If you read it, however, you shall be a brick!
  • Reading Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic For Tea is the most fun you'll have in any murder mystery!  Just clear an afternoon before starting – you won't want to put it down.  I stayed up 'til the wee hours to finish – and didn't care one bit, because it was just so marvellous!
  • Because... just because!  I've been rambling for this long!  Because I read both books in one sitting!  They are too freaking addictive!  They are so much fun!  They are amazing!  Because I've just used a billion exclamation marks in a row – something that means this is deadly serious!  Just trust me and read them now!  Like, right now.  I'll be waiting!

And that's my list.  I hope I've convinced you!  I can't recommend Wells & Wong enough and have already pushed the book onto my family and friends.  I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of the books! 

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
Nancy Drew by Kathryn Keene
Young Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lane

Happy Reading


No comments: