Stevens, Robin. Poison is Not Polite
April 26th 2016 by Simon and Schuster
(first published January 29th 2015 with the title Arsenic for Tea!)
Copy checked out from the Ohio E Book Project
After their exploits in Murder is Bad Manners, Hazel and Daisy are on an extended Easter holiday. They have gone to Fallingford, Daisy's wonderful, Downton Abbey type English manor house. In addition to Daisy's absent minded, jovial father and her high strung mother, there's an elderly butler, helpful cooks, an enigmatic governess (Miss Alston), Daisy's bother, his friend, and school mates Kitty and Beanie. There is also Daisy's Uncle Felix, and an interloper... Mr. Cushman. He seems to have designs not only on Daisy's mother, but on the art and jewelry around the house. He's been told to leave, but at Daisy's birthday tea he has a cup of tea that tastes foul... and then sickens and dies! The Wells and Wong detective agency is on the case, even though the biggest suspect seems to be Daisy's father. In very Agatha Christie fashion, the girls go through all of the suspects and finally uncover the real murderer.
Strengths: I'm a big fan of British mysteries from the 1920s and 30s, and this is set in the 1930s. Uncle Felix's description reminded me very much of Lord Peter Wimsey! There are lots of descriptions of the house, all the wonderful food that is served, and has a drawing room mystery to boot. Young readers who enjoy this might be interested in picking up some classic British mysteries.
Weaknesses: Hazel occasionally runs into problems with her ethnicity, which is exotic in this time and place. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to come in to play at many other times. I'm not sure how it would, but I wish we heard more about her back story. Will Daisy get to go to Hong Kong?
What I really think: A bit of a hard sell, even with the great cover. One of those books I buy because they amuse me, and can entice a small handful of readers every year.