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Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens - Review

Friday, August 30, 2019

I'm back at Deepdean! I pre-ordered this book and it arrived alongside four more one hot Thursday in August, whoops. I have the knack of ordering books and then forgetting about them until they arrive. Sometimes they sit for ages on my pile of books that I want to get to 'soon', but I can never resist a Wells & Wong novel so I picked it up immediately.

It's Deepdean's 50th anniversary as a school, so there's a celebration at the end of the school year. All the parents are invited for a whole weekend of celebrations including a dinner on the Saturday night. Hazel's parents are too far away to attend, of course, and since the scandal at Daisy's family seat, her parents have been keeping a low profile, so they're not coming either. So Hazel and Daisy are both feeling quite emotional about that. Their dormmates' parents are all coming, though, so the weekend promises to be okay.

On the Friday morning, Beanie is standing by the window in their dorm room when she sees something odd in Deepdean woods. She is pretty sure she sees a man strangling a woman. Has she really seen a murder? The members of the Detective Society decide to keep an eye out to see if any man appears that evening without his wife in tow. They also go out to the woods to see if they can find any evidence. They do, so Hazel hurriedly calls Inspector Priestley to say they think they have another murder on their hands.

The Inspector turns up the next day and takes Daisy and Hazel out for lunch. The girls carry on detecting the crime, and end up smuggling themselves into the hall that evening for the celebration dinner. While there, they see Mrs Rivers, sister of their headmistress, collapse and ultimately die. It looks like arsenic poisoning - but who on her table had the chance to poison her?

The plot has quite a lot of twists and turns and although the girls make several leaps of logic at points, I did also like how sometimes they made really quite sophisticated deductions. I liked the parents being there, and I think in forthcoming books we'll see all five girls face grown up situations that they haven't dealt with before. I couldn't quite remember all of the scandal that had happened around Daisy's family, so I'll have to reread Arsenic for Tea before long and refresh my memory. I do wonder what will happen to the girls - they're about to move up a school year and school is obviously a finite amount of time. Robin probably can't write these books forever! I do love them, though.

My only major criticism is that we didn't see very much of the school life itself, which is what I really like. I'd love more of that - and another ten books at least.

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