If you’ve read my blog before, you will know that I love a good detective story. I have really enjoyed reading the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens and the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, so when I saw this anthology (set of stories) I knew it would be right up my street. Both Woodfine and Stevens wrote a short story in this book, along with ten other authors. These are: Clementine Beauvais, Elen Caldecott, Susie Day, Julia Golding, Frances Hardinge, Caroline Lawrence, Helen Moss, Sally Nicholls, Kate Pankhurst and Harriet Whitehorn. The only author whose books I have read out of that lot is Frances Hardinge, the acclaimed writer of the award winning The Lie Tree. I was really excited to get stuck into this to find out about more authors of this genre and also, in a way , pay homage to some of the old great crime writers like Agatha Christie who made similar anthologies. Thanks go to Katherine Woodfine for telling me this!
Before discussing some of the stories, I must say how much I love the cover! The teal and gold is beautiful and the poison bottle, finger print and calligraphy gives a sense of classic murder mystery.
These stories really were gripping and intense in places for short stories. They provided a real range of detectives and settings, from Victorian times, to modern day in London and even monster detectives! There really is something for everyone. It was nice to see more boys in some of these stories. It’s not a criticism of other books that I have read recently, I just think that not all boys would consider some detective stories to be for them, but it’s just not true. Male figures like Sherlock Holmes are great, but the original stories can be quite hard going as they were written such a long time ago so the language and audience was very different. I found this a bit of an issue last year when teaching a topic on mystery/detective stories – I wish I had this book then! It would have been great to use for guided reading and reading for writing as it gives great variety of styles of writing within the same genre.
My favourite stories within this book by authors I hadn’t read before were: Emily and the Detectives by Susie Day; The Mystery of the Green Room by Clementine Beauvaisand The Murder of Monsieur Pierre by Harriet Whitehorn. I particularly like the idea of Emily in Susie Day’s story. Emily’s father, Mr Black, solves crimes with a rather wet blanket of a man called Lord Copperbole. On the surface it looks like the two gentlemen are of superior intelligence, not too dissimilar to the familiar characters of Sherlock and Watson. However, Emily is the true mastermind despite her governess’s efforts to get her to focus on painting and French. I love reading about women or girls who fight back against a society which aims to oppress them – when girls say that they are just as able as boys and should be treated the same.
Recently, when the weather has been good, I have tried to read outside as much as possible. The other day I managed to read for an hour whilst my husband was fishing. Some may think that it would be boring, but with a picnic, time to read, time to nap and then freshly caught fish for dinner, it was a perfect afternoon!
This book would be great for anyone who likes trying to solve problems or if you have enjoyed anything written by the authors in this anthology. For teachers out there, this is a fantastic book for WAGOLLs of this genre and provides a great range of characters and settings. These rich yet short stories would be ideal for a class reader and/or in guided reading.
Double thumbs up and five stars for this book. I now have a load of news authors to look up and search for when I next visit the bookshop and the library. Thank you Katherine Woodfine for chatting to me about this book and signing my copy! I’m hoping that The Crime Club might meet up again soon and stir up some more mystery and mayhem…