The author of the Murder Most Unladylike series on a great museum mystery.
The book that I most wish I could have written is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg. It’s a story about Claudia and her little brother, Jamie, who run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and end up fascinated by the mystery of a little angel sculpture they find there.
I grew up in a museum (sort of – my mother worked at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford) and so I spent my childhood dreaming about how amazing living in one would be. Museums are more than just their exhibits – there’s something very special about being behind the scenes of one. They all have secrets that they only begin to give away after you’ve spent a lot of time in them, and E L Konigsburg got that.
Claudia is both a big dreamer and a very practical kid, just like I was, and she approaches running away in a way that I approved of intensely from the first time I read it. But it’s the mystery of the Angel that grabs me more and more every time I reread. Claudia and Jamie’s quest (they’re great sleuths, and as a result I’ve wanted to write a museum mystery for years) turns into one of the most beautiful explorations of why people create art that I’ve ever read.
From the Mixed-Up Files is a great mystery story that’s also full of really sharp, good things to say about what’s important in life. There are three copies of it on my bookshelf, and I’m never giving away a single one.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler (978-1-7826-9071-9) by E L Konigsburg is published by Pushkin Press, £7.99
Robin Stevens’s new book Jolly Foul Play (978-0-1413-6969-3), book 4 in the Murder Most Unladylike series is published by Corgi, £6.99.