Mistletoe and Murder is the fifth book in Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike Mystery series which we started reading after I heard Robin talking at an SCBWI conference last year. They are fabulous first detective stories and we always find it very hard to stop reading until we get to the end of the story!
In the first book, Murder Most Unladylike, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong form a Detective Society and by the time they get to Cambridge in this story, they have already solved several murder cases. In Mistletoe and Murder they are joined by Alexander and George, members of another detective society, the Junior Pinkertons, who are also visiting. But strange things have been happening at Maudlin College and then a body is discovered…
The Story: Daisy and Hazel are spending Christmas with Daisy’s Aunt Eustacia at St. Lucy’s which also gives them the opportunity to spend time with Daisy’s brother, Bertie, at Maudlin College. Bertie’s twin housemates are looking forward to celebrating their 21st birthday on Christmas Eve, the oldest twin, Donald, will inherit the family estate. But Chummy is the more popular brother and somebody seems determined to ensure that Donald doesn’t live to see his birthday. When a body is found in the middle of the night, Daisy, Hazel and the Junior Pinkertons join forces to solve the mystery. But then another sinister event occurs. Can they solve the case and identify the murderer before Christmas Day?
Bertie and the twins, his friends, Alfred and Amanda, and staff members including teacher Michael, Mr. Perkins, the porter, and Moss, the bedder are all in Cambridge for Christmas. With so many different characters we were kept guessing who the murderer was right until the end!
Mistletoe and Murder is set in the 1930s so there are no mobile phones or Internet to help Daisy and Hazel, they need to rely on piecing clues together and keeping their eyes and ears open for any relevant information. A local policeman, PC Cross, has been put in charge of the case and Daisy and Hazel are also hampered by the fact that, as young ladies, they must be chaperoned. But Hazel painstakingly records all the evidence that they collect in her notebook, slowly they eliminate people from their enquiries and, as in all good mystery stories, the identity of the murderer is revealed in a very unexpected way.
Robin has beautifully evoked the atmosphere of a traditional English Christmas and the story intertwines food, festivities and other seasonal elements with more sinister events. It’s a real page turner which poses many questions and adds lots of twists and turns to the plot – why does Amanda always have so much work to do? What is the significance of the fishing wire? Why does climbing play such an important part in the story? From the discovery of the first body events moved quickly and several times we were surprised by unexpected twists and revelations.
If you’re looking for an action packed Christmas mystery we definitely recommend Mistletoe and Murder which can either be read as a standalone novel or as part of the series. There’s even a mini Christmas mystery at the end of the book – The Mystery of the Missing BunBreak!
We’ve enjoyed all of the Murder Most Unladylike mysteries that we’ve read so far. Daisy and Hazel’s detective skills have been put to good use in a variety of locations and all the books have kept us turning the pages until the very end.