Review: Mystery and Mayhem – a short story collection

What it says on the tin – fantastic murder mysteries by contemporary children’s authors.

Publication date: 5th May 2016
Publisher: Egmont

I am partial to a good short story collection, and Mystery and Mayhem really delivers that bite-sized intrigue every short story should have. There is not a dull moment, and every story is on point.

Each writer has a unique voice, with a fascinating way of murdering their literary creations. Some play with your head, some play with your emotion – some do both in wonderful combination. Peppered with that special brand of British humour, with elements which range Gorey-esque to Blackadder and everything in between, the stories are separated into Impossible Mysteries, Canine Capers, Poison Plots or Closed-system Crimes.

It’s also interesting to note that the majority of these stories are set in the past – anything from Sherlock Holmes’ time to Hercule Poirot’s. This allows for a glamorous feel to the collection, with exotic fruit hidden in hoop skirts and horse-drawn carriages alongside online research and dog-walking services.

I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys fun, well-written literature (so… anyone). The stories are fantastic and, as I realised after I’d read it, they are all written by women. As it should be, no attention is drawn to this fact, they are simply described as “twelve of the best children’s crime writers writing today.” Yet it is hardly surprising, in retrospect, as the female characters are well-rounded and interesting, and there is a strong portrayal of male-female friendships with no need for romance, which is refreshing to read.

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