Jolly Foul Play is a middle grade novel written by Robin Stevens. It is the fourth Wells & Wong Mystery that features Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, the intrepid schoolgirl sleuths. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book with my oldest daughter because I had a feeling she would like it.
Hazel and Daisy are back at Deepdean for another year, and there have been a lot of changes. Elizabeth, the new Head Girl, is very cruel to the younger girls. She and her five friends rule the school, and there are severe repercussions for the most minor of infractions. On Bonfire Night, Elizabeth is found dead on the playing field. The Headmistress insists it was an accident, but Hazel and Daisy are convinced that it is murder- especially after someone begins releasing secrets about the girls at the school. It is time for the Detective Society to reconvene and solve their fourth murder!
This was an absolutely brilliant book. It takes place at an English boarding school in the 1930s, so there’s all sorts of charming slang and rah rah schoolgirl camaraderie. On that note, there is some trouble with Hazel and Daisy’s friendship, and modern readers will recognize that some issues are timeless, and similar misunderstandings still happen today. The high emotions are portrayed so poignantly, with great care and empathy.
The mystery was extremely well done. Hazel and Daisy are methodical sleuths, and employ a variety of methods to gather clues and information. They use logic and reason to eliminate suspects, and they work together to share theories. As they get closer to the truth, the situation escalates, which makes for a thrilling conclusion.
I would absolutely recommend Jolly Foul Play to middle grade readers. I would suggest starting with the first book in the series, but if you must read this book first, there are allusions to earlier cases, but no spoilers. My oldest daughter, who is almost 11, loved this book. I have some UK editions of other books in the series, and she devoured them. She loves reading, but hasn’t always shown an interest in novels, so it’s a pretty big deal that she showed such an interest in this series. We’re certainly looking forward to reading more of Stevens’ books in the future!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.