Review: Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

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Arsenic for Tea is the ultimate sequel to Robin Steven’s amazing debut novel Murder Most Unladylike which I reviewed last summer. I was very excited about reading this, having thoroughly enjoyed the former story, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, Arsenic For Tea doesn’t just maintain Robin Steven’s very high standard: this book takes children’s detective literature to a whole new level, and I am sure the Wells and Wong series is just going to grow and grow in popularity. Comparably to my reaction to Murder Most Unladylike, I genuinely couldn’t put this book down at times, and finally, having sorted out the problems with my Blog, recently!, I can reflect upon it in this review.
I will start with the characters that are described so vividly and make the story so compelling and intriguing. We even have a useful little family-tree at the start of the book, accompanied by a map of Fallingford – the home of Daisy Wells and her family. So of course, Daisy and Hazel feature prominently, and we are introduced to Daisy’s highly amusing family, including her mother and father: Lord and Lady Hastings. Also present is an unusual range of guests such as Aunt Saskia and Uncle Felix and a mysterious man called Mr Curtis. Plus, Daisy and Hazel’s familiar school friends Kitty and Beany reappear, all united by the occasion of Daisy’s fourteenth birthday.
Again, the story is narrated in the perspective of the detective group’s case notes and Hazel, the Secretary of the duo of detectives, is relating to ‘The Case of Mr Curtis’. Despite the occasion, Daisy gradually becomes aware that the party isn’t about her at all. And everything leads to the mysterious behaviour surrounding Mr Curtis.
“There, standing in the arch of the stone doorway, was a man. He was quite young for a grown-up, with wide shoulders and a narrow waist just like a man in advertisement. He came into the hall, slouching fashionably and I saw that his face was good-looking, his dark hair was smooth and his smile tooth-paste wide. He did not look at all the sort of man that might belong in the entrance to Fallingford House…”
(Arsenic for Tea – Page 17)
And that is when the strange occurrences begin to descend on Fallingford, and a pleasingly mature and complex mystery emerges surrounding Mr Curtis (who nobody seems to have been acquainted with before except Lady Hastings, and perhaps Daisy’s governess Mrs Alston, who becomes rather suspicious around Curtis). Daisy and Hazel witness several interesting happenings, including Mr Curtis’s strange opinions on the furniture inside Fallingford, and his relationship with Lady Hastings. And then, on the day of Daisy’s birthday at her tea party, Mr Curtis is openly poisoned by a brutal dose of arsenic and almost everybody in the house has a motive! And then suddenly, the household is trapped within the walls of Fallingford, as the result of a terrific storm. Can Daisy and Hazel (with the help of temporary secret agents Kitty and Beany) solve the case before the murderer has chance to strike again?
An absolutely fantastic read. I haven’t quite finished it yet, so I can’t wait to discover the outcome! I highly recommend this book to all age groups and it most certainly deserves a five star rating!
I can’t wait for the next addition to the Wells and Wong series: First Class Murder which sounds great; I have just read the description on Amazon.

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