MMGM: Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano
As I enter the last year of this decade (yes, I'm getting technical on you folks--the new decade starts in 2021, even though the 2020's started last week...just to be confusing....), I'm faced with the view of just how much I don't know about myself. Will I ever get up the gumption to dye my hair red, or am I officially middle-aged-brown now? Should I continue on with Charlotte Mason homeschooling, or do I prefer a more Classical bent? How do I really feel about all those whites being thrown in with colors when my tweens do laundry? You know, important questions.
Also on the list, and verifiably discussed at our family Christmas dinner: just what kind of mysteries do I like, anyway?
This one has left me a bit confused. Some of my very favorite books are mysteries: The Father Brown Mysteries, by G. K. Chesterton, Sherlock Holmes... And nothing gets me out of a bad week like a good Agatha Christie story. Yet some of the mysteries I've tried have left me totally dry; some leave me disturbed, while the cozier sort often leave me wondering whatever happened to good writing standards, anyway.
Maybe you veteran mystery readers can give me some advice here; I'll be trying out Dorothy Sayers next at the advice of my sister-in-law and soon-to-be-brother-in-law (thanks, guys), but I'd love your recommendations for well-written, not-too-graphic, not-too-cheesy, probably-with-a-British-flair mystery stories! And I'd be particularly grateful if anyone can help me define my taste with a word or phrase, rather than needing two paragraphs to pin it down!
In the meantime, I was lucky enough to stumble on my own on a mystery that was right up my alley, so I'll share it with you today--even if I don't know exactly what mystery sub-genre it should be filed under. :/
Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano has everything I love in a good mystery: excellent writing, good character development, a satisfying problem to solve, and even a touch of British humor. For me, the fact that it's written for middle grade readers is a plus, as we all know I'm about 12 years old deep inside. What made it extra special is that it's loosely framed around Agatha Christie's own childhood.
As a writer and Agatha Christie fan, I loved the little inside jokes and references, imagined origin stories, if you will, of some of her classic scenarios and characters. In particular, we meet (the entirely made up) Hector Perrot, a Belgian refugee with a flair for solving crimes and maintaining perfection in his attire. Bold writer though I may be, I don't think I'd be up for the task of turning Hercule Poirot into a child--could he ever have been one?--but Marthe Jocelyn somehow pulled it off. You'll love him.
I can't wait to share Aggie Morton with my almost-teenager, as it's the perfect introduction to Agatha Christie's particular brand of mystery story... Whatever you might call that particular brand, anyway.
Thanks so much to Netgalley for providing me with an e-arc of this novel for review!
(You can purchase Aggie Morton: Mystery Queen from Amazon by clinking the image below, and I'll receive a tiny commission--or better yet, find it at your local independent bookseller!)
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations (you can usually find some good giveaways going on, too!), visit Greg's blog.