cover image Murder Is Bad Manners

Murder Is Bad Manners

Robin Stevens. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2212-3

Eighth-grader Hazel Wong lives in the shadow of her best friend Daisy Wells, a girl so flawless that even retching seems to agree with her. Inspired by pulp fiction paperbacks, the girls form a secret detective agency at their boarding school, opening their first big case when their teacher, Miss Bell, turns up dead. Set in 1934 England, this first book in the Wells & Wong Mystery series is part murder mystery, part diary, and a pitch-perfect snapshot of adolescent friendship. Daisy is the classic mean girl: privileged, selfish, and as beautiful as she is heartless—all qualities that Hazel lacks. (Narrator Hazel isn’t even the heroine of her own story!) The girls are in over their heads, but Daisy, used to bending everyone to her whims, refuses to admit it, so it’s up to pragmatic Hazel to save the case, and their lives. Their yin-yang friendship, like the camaraderie of Sherlock and Watson, is as integral to the story as the revelation of the murderer. A sharp-witted debut for Stevens, one that will leave readers eagerly awaiting subsequent installments. Ages 10–up. Agent: Gemma Cooper, Bent Agency. (Apr.)