Poison Is Not Polite
by Robin Stevens
Paperback, 321 pages
2016, Simon & Schuster
The Wells and Wong Detective Society is back in action while the girls are on holiday at Daisy’s family estate. Her mother has thrown her a birthday party, but amidst the festivities, one of the guests falls deathly ill. Due to a massive storm and flooding, the family and their guests are on their own for a few days, so the girls are determined to solve the case before the police arrive, and avoid being murdered themselves!
This was a charming sequel to Murder is Bad Manners (yes, I’m referring to middle-grade murder mysteries as charming) and as usual, I was totally stumped as to who the murder was.
Solving their second mystery, the girls find that their suspect list is comprised mostly of Daisy’s family, including her father, mother, brother and uncle and aunt, as well as their quiet new governess. The subject matter of this book is a bit heavier, as Daisy discovers her family has more issues than she thinks, on top of the murder. I guess it’s a kind of spoiler, so I won’t say what, but Daisy and Hazel witness a scene between two adults that causes Daisy to see one of her parents in a new light. In the midst of dealing with that trauma, her mother’s guest is murdered during Daisy’s birthday tea and virtually everyone in the house is a suspect.
The tone manages not to get too heavy, however. Daisy spends much of her time in denial about the true state of things and throws herself into the case with her usual flair. Hazel is observant and patient as always. The scenes where Daisy is confronted with reality are spaced out so the content isn’t too heavy or depressing. I did like that the plot aged a little with the girls, giving the series a chance to deal with topics that children are likely to come across as they grow into teens. Hmm, I feel like that didn’t come out very eloquently, but I don’t know how else to say it, so hopefully, you know what the hell I’m trying to say.
You don’t need to read Murder is Bad Manners in order to enjoy Poison is Not Polite, but I’m not sure why you’d skip over a book in a series on purpose. I’m excited about the next installment and as I mentioned before, I recommend this series if you’re looking for a middle-grade murder mystery (I really just like the way that phrase sounds) that has the potential to grow with its characters.