Top Marks for Murder (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery 8)

Top Marks for Murder (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery 8)
Age Range
Release Date
July 25, 2023
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Daisy and Hazel return to their beloved Deepdean School for Girls only for a murder to put the school under threat of closure in this gripping eighth novel of the Murder Most Unladylike series.

Daisy and Hazel are finally back at Deepdean, and the school is preparing for a most exciting fiftieth anniversary celebration. Plans for a weekend of festivities are in full swing. But in the detectives’ long absence, Deepdean has changed. Daisy has lost her popularity crown to a fascinating new girl, and many of the Detective Society’s old allies are now their sworn enemies.

Then the girls witness a shocking incident in the woods close by—a crime that they’re sure is linked to the anniversary. As parents and alumni descend upon Deepdean, decades-old grudges, rivalries, and secrets begin to surface, and soon Deepdean’s future is at stake. Can the girls solve the case and save their home?

Editor review

1 review
Save the school!
Overall rating
Writing Style
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What worked:
The story is narrated by Hazel Wong, vice president and secretary for the Wells & Wong Detective Society. Experienced readers may notice similarities to Watson’s role in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Hazel helps with investigations but this book is comprised of her journal entries documenting the group’s efforts to solve cases. The characters identify suspects, motives, and opportunities to commit a murder. It’s realistic to see them change hypotheses as they collect more evidence although their ideas take drastic turns on more than one occasion. Hazel and Daisy widen and narrow potential suspects and completely change their motives when they think previous assumptions are incorrect. The girls worked with a detective on previous cases and it’s surprising to see how much this adult character trusts their judgment.
Daisy is president of the society and she constantly reminds other characters about that. She’s aloof and self-centered and she feels jealousy upon returning to school when she’s no longer the center of attention. Her greatest excitement comes from solving mysteries, especially murders. Daisy has a very logical mind with keen detective skills and she demands the other members of the society think the same way. This attitude makes her seem unemotional and callous but Hazel’s observations of her friend reveal the emotions Daisy’s dealing with. Daisy offers her friends more praise as the story moves along, so perhaps she’s slowly changing.
The plot includes the families of different students and highlights their complicated relationships. Some of the issues are relevant since they may provide motives for murder. Characters were unaware the head of the school had a sister but this woman becomes the first victim. One father is a world-class tennis player while another is a suspected smuggler. It also turns out that many of the parents are former classmates at the school and the girls wonder if past teenage problems may be affecting events in the present. One couple is worried about telling their daughters they’re going to become big sisters and another mother’s serious illness has returned and may not be treatable. Interestingly, the only two students without parents attending the 50th-anniversary celebration are Hazel and Daisy.
What didn’t work as well:
The fun part of reading mysteries is considering new clues as the characters uncover them. However, the girls in this book drastically change their suspect list depending on new theories. This makes it more difficult to follow the investigation and it continues even late into the story. There are usually four to five suspects at a time which makes it more challenging to focus readers’ attention.
The final verdict:
This book is my first experience with the series and it can be read independently. The topic of murder probably makes it more appropriate for older, middle-grader readers but the girls’ relationships can be appreciated by all. Overall, I recommend you give this book a shot.
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