Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Wells & Wong Mystery, Book 3 - First Class Murder

This series keeps getting better and better. Author Robin Stevens is getting a better feel of her characters as the series progresses, and with each book, it's easy to see that Stevens is becoming more comfortable with writing these murder mysteries. Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells have never come alive as much as they did in this book - and to see the characters beginning to grow (Hazel not only shows more backbone when it comes to Daisy, but she also begins to realize that she is becoming her own person and that she has to take a stand now and then when justice and fairness demands it) is thoroughly entertaining.

First Class Murder is an homage to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. The author admits in the acknowledgements at the back of the book that when her publisher suggested doing a book where a murder occurs on a train, her first thought was Christie's mystery. So, as a way of honoring the great mystery writer, Stevens has her two teenage sleuths take a trip on the Orient Express, as the bequest of Hazel's father. It is meant to be a vacation, a chance for Hazel and Daisy to get away from the events that had recently unfolded (in the last book, Poison is Not Polite) and for Hazel to try and influence Daisy to not be quite so focused on solving murders. Of course, fate has other plans when Miss Livedon, the undercover officer from the previous mystery, unexpectedly arrives on the train under an assumed name and ultimately reveals to the girls that she is searching for a spy who intends to turn over government plans to the Germans. She warns the girls to stay out of it, that it is none of their concern.  Daisy, needless to say, decides they simply must find the spy before Miss Livedon...

Until the murder happens.

Poor Mrs. Georgiana Daunt is murdered in her cabin, behind locked doors.  No one could have gotten in or out of the room, and yet she is found with her throat slit, her expensive necklace gone, and a train full of first class passengers who had motive to kill the poor woman.  Her husband, who was broke before her met her and has been using her money to fund his business.  Her maid, who is much more interested in Mr. Daunt and her lady's material possessions.  Her brother, who was left out their parents' will and has always held a grudge.  Her medium, who may or may not be real, who stood to inherit a considerable sum of money upon her death.  The Russian aristocrat, who claimed the ruby in Mrs. Daunt's necklace was actually her family's heirloom.  The magician who seems to be the only one with the capability of getting into and out of a locked room without any trouble.  Even Miss Livedon, who possibly discovered that Mrs. Daunt was the spy she was after.

In good ol' fashioned Agatha Christie style, Daisy and Hazel work their way through all of the suspects, narrowing it down one by one.  And with the help from an unexpected sidekick (the Russian aristocrat's grandson), they manage to work they way through a number of red herrings, exonerate a wrongfully accused suspect, and get the clues they need to solve the crime - but it leads to a rather unexpected solution!  By the end, both Mr. Wong and Miss Livedon have to admit that Wells & Wong make a pretty good crime-solving pair.

Oh, and in this book, we may not learn who "M" is yet, but we do learn who Wong Fung Ying is - but don't think I'll be revealing that secret here...

I'm relieved to see that Amazon has the fourth book in this series listed with a publication date of 2018, so I already have something to look forward to next year!

RATING:  10 forged birth certificates out of 10 for keeping young adult mystery series as they should be - fun, suspenseful, and engaging!

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