The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1)

Marthe Jocelyn, illus. by Isabelle Follath. Tundra, $15.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6546-2
Child sleuths investigate a poisoning in this winning whodunit based on Agatha Christie’s childhood. In 1902 Torquay, Aggie Morton, 12, whose father recently died, has what her mother calls a “Morbid Preoccupation.” Additionally, the aspiring writer, homeschooled and often shy, likes crafting descriptive variations (“eyes like lime cordial?... Glittering emeralds?”). In a chance sweet-shop encounter, she befriends Belgian refugee Hector Perot, a fastidious boy staying for a time nearby (“our own little immigrant,” his hosts call him). After leaving her journal at her dance studio one evening following a charitable “Befriend the Foreigners” concert, Aggie returns to find a disagreeable local woman dead beneath the titular instrument. When an anonymous note with clues to the murderer’s identity appears, the children jump on the case, much to the delight of a prolific reporter and the keen frustration of the constabulary. Though Perot’s presence adds little more than Easter eggs (e.g., his namesake’s phrasing habits) to the otherwise well-plotted mystery, he is set up to play a larger role in future installments. Jocelyn (One Yellow Ribbon) offers an enjoyable entrée to the Queen of Crime and to the genre; the narrative’s arch tone, the girl’s vital grandmother, and the novel’s surfeit of extravagant teas should please. Character portraits and chapter heading spot art from Follath (Joy) add whimsical appeal. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/19/2019
Release date: 02/04/2020
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-7352-6551-6
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-7352-7081-7
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-7352-6549-3
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