Wells and Wong return in a classic country-estate mystery.
Spending their April break at Fallingford, Daisy’s stately (but run-down) family home, schoolgirls Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong become detectives again when an unpleasant friend of Daisy’s mother is murdered there. Mr. Curtis is a stranger, ostensibly invited for Daisy’s 14th birthday party. He’s clearly more interested in the family’s valuable antiques, and Daisy’s mother, Lady Hastings, is inappropriately interested in him. When he’s fatally poisoned after drinking his tea, many people have motives, but the girls (and two school friends invited for the occasion) quickly narrow the list. All their potential suspects are members of Daisy’s own family. This is difficult for the president of the Detective Society, but she continues to gamely direct its proceedings. Hazel serves as scribe and narrator. Besides recording their activities, she supplies her own observations, including comparisons of her wealthy Chinese family’s home in Hong Kong with this shabbier one, and her feelings about looking and being different from Daisy and her white family. Published in England in 2015 as Arsenic for Tea, this well-crafted and entertaining detective story, a stand-alone sequel to Murder Is Bad Manners (2014), is solidly set in a fading world of 1930s minor nobility and supported by a cast list and map.
A first-rate whodunit, reminiscent of a game of Clue and terrific preparation for the works of Agatha Christie. (Historical mystery. 10-14)