Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens


A jolly good read. Don’t miss the fourth instalment in the hugely successful Murder Most Unladylike series – it’s the best yet.

In the fourth adventure in the Murder Most Unladylike series, we return to the setting of the first book – Deepdean School for Girls. But things have changed. For the first time a Head Girl has been elected and Elizabeth Hurst didn’t get the position based on popularity. Instead, she manipulated and blackmailed her peers and, supported by her five prefects, she’s now terrorising the school. Responsible for so much misery, its little wonder everyone wishes Elizabeth dead. But someone has gone one step further – committing a murder and presenting it as an accident. None of the adults even suspect ‘foul play’ so it’s up to Daisy, Hazel and their Detective Society to uncover the truth.

It’s easy to see why this award winning series has proved so popular. A huge fan of Agatha Christie as a child, I was hooked from book one. I very much enjoyed both subsequent adventures – first at Daisy’s country home (Arsenic for Tea) and then on the Orient Express (First Class Murder) – but Jolly Foul Play has quickly grabbed the top spot as the best yet.

Like any good murder mystery, it keeps the reader guessing until the very end and I genuinely had no clue who the murderer was until the events were neatly slotted into place in the climax. However, what makes Jolly Foul Play stand out from the others is the narrative depth as we are shown how narrator, Hazel Wong, has been changed by the events of the previous books. We’re cheering her all the way as she asserts her independence from her friend Daisy but equally thrilled when the two come together to renew their friendship on new and slightly more equal terms.

It’s also fun to explore the character dynamics within the rest of the now considerably expanded Detective Society. In fact, I’m somewhat in awe of author, Robin Steven’s ability to successfully juggle so many characters – the Five ‘Big Girls’ (the main suspects), the five members of the Detective Society (not counting the boys who participate via letter), and a whole subset of teachers and students in the lower years. Its credit to Robin’s writing that there is never a moment’s confusion despite this large cast of characters.

Unable to put this book down, I read this cover to cover in one sitting and I’m already waiting for book 5. The ending of Jolly Foul Play suggests it will be set in Cambridge in the Christmas holidays. Exactly where, when and who we don’t yet know but I’m pretty certain we can expect another murder.

If you enjoyed this, don’t miss the first three books in the series – Murder Most Unladylike, Arsenic For Tea or First Class Murder.

ISBN: 978-0141369693
Date: March 2016
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 386
Author: Robin Stevens
Madge's 5 / 5 Star Book rating
Review first published on The Bookbag

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