Coming at you today with a middle-grade mystery that I found mildly mediocre. No, I’m not sure what’s up with that alliteration – just go with it.
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen – The Body Under The Piano by Marthe Jocelyn and illustrated by Isabelle Follath
My Edition: Hardcover – 325 pages – 2020 published – Tundra Books – ISBN: 9780735265462
I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
Aggie finds herself at the center of attention in her town when she finds a body in her dance studio. The victim is Mrs. Eversham, sister-in-law to Aggie’s dance teacher, Miss Eversham. And the prime suspect? Miss Eversham herself! But Aggie suspects there’s more to be revealed, if only she can find the right clues. She enlists the help of her new friend, Hector Perot, and they must race to gather clues while avoiding the watchful eyes of adults.
This is a perfectly adequate MG mystery, but the long and short of it for me is that it simply didn’t meet my expectations. In general, it’s pretty easy for me to love any genre of MG. But when it comes to mysteries and the children solving them, my current gold-standard is the Wells and Wong series by Robin Stevens, and almost tied with it, Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series (it’s not tied because I haven’t read it as recently.) Both of these series feature independent female characters with strong development and important themes like prejudice, growing up, friendship, self-discovery, etc. Unfortunately, Aggie Morton just didn’t measure up.
Aggie and Hector are cute, and I appreciate that they’re inspired by Agatha Christie and her famous detective, Hercule Poirot. I also love the overall design of the book and Follath’s illustrations, which will be featured in a future Judging post.
Sadly, Aggie and Hector didn’t really draw me in. They felt a lot younger than Wells and Wong, but I think the characters from both books are around 14. I can’t really pinpoint why Aggie and Hector felt younger; maybe Aggie’s semi-upper-class upbringing lead her to be more sheltered and inexperienced, and that made her feel young? Or Hector’s recent immigration to England and his adjustment to the lifestyle? It also felt like there was a whole lot of talking and thinking, and less doing. Maybe I just needed a bit more action and less tea time.
Despite this book feeling a bit too young for me overall, the ending ramps up the maturity in terms of subject matter once the perpetrator and reasoning is revealed. I still think the book is probably best for those around age 12. But what do I know?
I won’t be continuing the series, if there is one, but this was by no means a bad book. If you know a younger reader who enjoys mysteries, a young Agatha Christie fan, or you’re a MG fan looking for something light and quick, check this one out.