Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1)

Jocelyn, Marthe. The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1)
February 4th 2020 by Tundra Books (NY)
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Aggie lives in the small seaside town of Torquay in 1902. Since her father's recent passing has left the family with fewer funds, she and her mother live with her grandmother. Aggie takes dance at the Mermaid Dance Room, and the girls are preparing for a recital that will gather clothing and supplies for recent immigrants. When the difficult mother of one of the students is found under the piano the next day by Aggie, she starts an investigation with a boy< Hector Porot, who has recently come to town from Belgium and is being fostered by the minister and his wife. Aggie's governess has a crush on the local constable, and Aggie and Hector seem to have unprecedented access to many people in town, allowing them to figure out the mystery more easily than the local police.
Strengths: This was actually a rather gruesome murder mystery, with plenty of details about the poisoning as well as a a protracted scene with a dead animal's brains leaking out in the garden-- my students often ask for this sort of mystery, so perhaps this is a good way to get them to read historical fiction. Christie used to be read in the 8th grade, but isn't an author with whom many of my students will be familiar, so this is a clever way to introduce her mysteries.
Weaknesses: The style and vocabulary of this book make it one better suited to strong readers.
What I really think: I may purchase this for fans of Stevenson's Wells and Wong Mysteries. It won't see a lot of circulation, but will be a hit with the right reader. It's sort of a more accessible version of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)(2009).

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