Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens, published by Corgi on 29th January 2015
Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's 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 really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.
Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill - and everything points to poison.
With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem - and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.
This book was exactly my cup of tea! Set in 1935, it's a detective story with a difference. The difference being that the detectives are teenage girls, Daisy and Hazel, who along with their two friends are determined to solve a crime which is committed in Daisy's own home. Of course, you know that they will leave no stone unturned in their quest to find the guilty party and solve the case.
I haven't read the first Wells and Wong mystery, 'A Murder Most Unladylike' but I'd heard enough about the series to know that I desperately wanted to read it for myself. I didn't really matter that I hadn't started with book one because this was a standalone story and it took me no time at all to become acquainted properly with the characters. Daisy is impetuous, quick thinking and clever, whereas Hazel balances out her spontaneity by being more of a think before you act kind of detective. However, you always know that she will stand by Daisy's side through thick and thin.
I loved the setting of the novel. Britain in the 1930's is one of my favourite periods so this appealed to me immensely. I also liked the fact that it was set at Fallingford, Daisy's home, with such a fabulous set of unusual characters staying at the house - Lord and Lady Hastings, eccentric Aunt Saskia, Uncle Felix, Daisy's brother Bertie and his friend Stephen and new governess Miss Alston. Everyone is under suspicion when a fatal crime is committed and it reminded me of a murder mystery party, where the culprit must be found before anyone is allowed to leave.
I thought that the narrative, told from Hazel's point of view, was brilliant. It drew me into the story instantly and I couldn't put the book down for a second. There were lots of exciting and important clues to be discovered and I loved following the girls' sleuthing. It was a bit like a really exciting game of cluedo!
There were so many things about this book which appealed to me and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries but is also looking for a mystery with a twist. The next book in the series is going to be called 'A First Class Murder' and I for one, can't wait to read it!