This is the eighth book in a much-loved series about Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, two schoolgirl detectives in 1930s England. In this adventure their beloved school Deepdean is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a weekend of festivities to which the girls’ parents are invited.
Something nefarious is witnessed in the woods surrounding the school. Daisy, Hazel and their friends must investigate. If they cannot solve the case, Deepdean School will close.
This book is a worthy addition to the series since it introduces two new elements. For the first time in the series the parents of the pupils and the alumnae of the school play a significant part in the narrative. As a consequence the reader learns a great deal about both groups of adults, including their motivations. Most readers of detective novels will be accustomed to strange twists about the identity of the killer. But with her customary gift for the unexpected, Stevens gives us a twist about who dies.
The festival weekend is marked by memorable events. The mother of one pupil has recovered from a potentially terminal illness. Her father has to tell this girl that her mother’s illness has returned. One of the school’s new pupils is apparently a little Egyptian princess. Conflict arises when the newcomer begins to usurp the limelight in which Daisy Wells is accustomed to bask. Issues such as serious illness and relative status do emerge in the real lives of young readers. They will easily understand what tensions arise in Stevens’s pages.
The novel is, as Stevens’s admirers will expect, compulsively readable. The reader must make the effort to keep track of a potentially bewildering multitude of characters. But the effort to do so is well worthwhile.