Book Review: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

IMG_6416When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find a truly exciting case. That is, until Hazel discovers the body of their science mistress, Miss Bell – and when they return five minutes later, the body is gone. Now the girls have to solve a murder and prove a murder happened in the first place, before the killer strikes again. Will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test? – adapted from back of book

Wow. Wooooooow. This is the probably the first true 5 stars I’ve given this year, because you know what? I couldn’t find a flaw with this book.

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood tells the story of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock who were behind the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer and his wife and two children. Truman Capote vividly, hauntingly and brilliantly brings to life these two young killers and the effect they had on those involved in the Kansiniansdeath.

As I started this book, I was told it was ‘disturbing’. And it was. Is, I should say. Unfortunately, I had to keep reading this book, as it is for college.

To read a work such as this, you have to have quite a strong stomach. I was nearly physically sick a couple of times. All right, maybe I’m just a wuss. Nevertheless, read with care.

As it is based on true events, this is a creative non-fiction – it uses real statements, dates and people but things like conversations have been invented. It is the first book of its kind I have ever read. I quite enjoyed the style – it is not just fact after fact, and there is enough prose to split it up and keep you interested.

The subject matter of this book is, as you will know, not a pleasant one. It is very graphic, and not for the faint-hearted (I may have already said this once or twice). Although it seems there are only 4 murders, there are, in fact, many more – and each one horrifically and vividly described.

Usually, murder fascinates me (no, I’m not a murderer, and I don’t plan to be, I don’t sympathise with killers and I am not a psychopath). The Clutter murders did as well, but the vivid way it was told did not.

Capote is an exquisite story-teller, and weaves fact and fiction in this well-written piece of work. I would recommend it, but not to younger audiences.

Explore the minds of Smith and Hickock and relive the struggles and terror the police and public faced after these murders.

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The First One {Short Story}

The First One

TW: Drugs, murder.
Word count: 994

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The tea was steadily getting colder, but still remained untouched. The marshmallow had been mutilated to the point that it probably wasn’t a marshmallow any more, and parts of it lay scattered on the saucer.

Fingertips tapped on the table top. Hard, blue eyes stared, watching various people go about their daily business outside.

Inside the coffee shop, there was a general buzz of content as the first flakes of snow fell.

A young man passed her by and sat opposite a pretty woman. He laughed and reached over to hold her hand. The woman’s eyes flitted to hers, and the girl stared, almost unseeingly, back at her. Shifting uncomfortably, the woman dropped her gaze.

The bell above the door rang as it was opened by a boy, no older than 16. He kicked grit from his boots whilst his friends passed him. They were jostling and laughing, but that wasn’t what made the girl smile.

Pushing tousled, brown hair away from his face, the boy’s gaze met hers. It dropped a split second later, and a hint of red appeared over his cheeks. Brown, intelligent eyes were enhanced by bright, white teeth, and he followed his friends to get drinks. With a skip in her heart as the handsome one looked at her again, the girl watched as the group sat opposite her table.

The book that had been used as a prop was ignored, and the girl put her full attention on the boy opposite. He sat, slouching but still managing to look interested in what the others were saying. He took small sips from his hot chocolate, pushing the hair from his face every so often.

Now and then, he would glance up at her, and she would pretend to be watching someone else, or would stare down at her book, feeling when he looked away.

Eventually, the three boys stood. The brown haired one turned her way one more time and smiled, before following his friends out of the door, which clanged shut behind them.

The girl stood. Leaving her untouched tea behind, she picked up a heavy duffel bag and opened the door, silent save for a light ringing of the bell.

For once, her tiny frame worked to her advantage. She followed the boys in a practised manner, waiting outside whilst they went into shops, always pretending to be engrossed in something else, making sure they didn’t notice her too much.

Long, loose hair flowed down her back like a white waterfall. Rubber soled boots made no sound on the concrete. Her leather jacket kept the rain off when a few drops decided to fall.

Finally, the boys split up. The girl followed the handsome one as he went this way and that, down the small alleys that no one else went down in the city. She watched carefully as he bought something from a dodgy looking guy, and, once again, waited outside as he disappeared into a club for an hour.

It was nearly 2AM by the time she caught him alone. He seemed sober and his eyes were clear, although she suspected he was under the influence of something or other.

What’s a pretty girl like you doing out so early?” he asked, stumbling upon her leaning against the wall just outside. She shrugged and batted her eyelids daintily.

Waiting for a handsome guy like you to come along, I suppose,” she twittered falsely. The boy smiled, almost warily, and she thought she saw a hint of recognition in his eyes.

Didn’t I see you earlier? In Mrs J’s?” he asked. The girl uttered a high, fake laugh.

Oh, perhaps. Weren’t you the handsome one that came through the door?” She stroked his arm, and the boy looked more at ease.

Perhaps,” he smiled. “Can I walk you home, then?”

The girl felt a rush through her veins. “Oh, yes please. It’s a little scary out here at night, what with all those strange men around.”

The boy nodded, and she reached down to pick up her duffel bag. “Oh here,” he said, “let me carry that for you.” She shrugged, and passed it to him; he bent momentarily over the unexpected weight, before straightening, and passing it to his right hand, so he could walk with his left to her. “Blimey, what have you got in here?”

Oh, just some…books,” she said, saying the first thing that came to her mind. “Shall we go, then?”

Casually, the girl walked off, and the boy hesitated for a moment before following her sashaying hips.

Street after street passed them by as the boy tried to make small talk. The girl answered in short sentences, still trying to keep the pretty tone to her voice. A small alley came up on her right, and she halted.

Oh, I know this place! This is a short cut,” she lied, holding out her hand for his. He took it without thinking, and she tugged him down the gloomy passage.

They met no one. Heard nothing. It seemed as if they were in their own little bubble. Perfect, the girl thought, a sly smile on her face.

So, where does this lead to?” the boy asked, peering back over his shoulders as the darkness engulfed them, taking them away from the comforting, orange street lights.

Somewhere special,” she replied vaguely.

When she felt sure that no one would see nor hear them, she pulled the boy towards her before pushing him against the wall. He dropped the duffel bag in shock, and they both heard the clanging of metal.

Frozen, the boy stayed tight against the wall. She reached down and slowly unzipped the bag. Drawing a knife from its depths, she held it up, so it glinted in the slither of moonlight that came from between the buildings.

This was it.

The first one.

The first boy she would ever kill. 

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