Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano


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A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Lemony Snicket and Enola Holmes.

Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn't got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal — including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends — to solve the case before Aggie's beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn't commit.

Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General's Award—nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


Child sleuths investigate a poisoning in this winning whodunit based on Agatha Christie’s childhood. In 1902 Torquay, Aggie Morton, 12, whose father recently died, has what her mother calls a “Morbid Preoccupation.” Additionally, the aspiring writer, homeschooled and often shy, likes crafting descriptive variations (“eyes like lime cordial?... Glittering emeralds?”). In a chance sweet-shop encounter, she befriends Belgian refugee Hector Perot, a fastidious boy staying for a time nearby (“our own little immigrant,” his hosts call him). After leaving her journal at her dance studio one evening following a charitable “Befriend the Foreigners” concert, Aggie returns to find a disagreeable local woman dead beneath the titular instrument. When an anonymous note with clues to the murderer’s identity appears, the children jump on the case, much to the delight of a prolific reporter and the keen frustration of the constabulary. Though Perot’s presence adds little more than Easter eggs (e.g., his namesake’s phrasing habits) to the otherwise well-plotted mystery, he is set up to play a larger role in future installments. Jocelyn (One Yellow Ribbon) offers an enjoyable entrée to the Queen of Crime and to the genre; the narrative’s arch tone, the girl’s vital grandmother, and the novel’s surfeit of extravagant teas should please. Character portraits and chapter heading spot art from Follath (Joy) add whimsical appeal. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)

Kirkus Reviews

A fictional version of young Agatha Christie, a bloodthirsty writer, is in an excellent position to solve a gruesome mystery.

It's 1902, and 12-year-old Aggie is a strange child in her largely white, English hometown. She's overwhelmingly shy yet gifted with a cutthroat imagination. Thanks to her "Morbid Preoccupation," Aggie is nearly unfazed when she discovers a corpse at her dancing lesson. But when two of Aggie's favorite people are suspected of the murder, she is determined to learn the truth. With the help of a Belgian refugee boy named Hector Perot, Agatha must find the real killer even if her mother, the constables, and an eager journalist all get in her way. A classic anonymous letter made of letters cut out of newspaper must be a key clue, surely. Fictionalizing both the author Agatha Christie and her famous creation as characters in the same mystery is an infelicitous choice at best. Within the world of the tale, Hector adds little; Aggie is the real detective of the pair. Nonetheless, myriad little touches keep this both exciting and enjoyable. Aggie's grandmother is funny and quite saucy. The girl's grief over her recently dead father manifests genuinely: as sudden flashes of grief, as irritation with his financial mismanagement, and as fond recollections of the delicious cake that had appeared in the wake of his death.

The protagonist makes a remarkable, cool, and likable detective despite some literary dead weight. (author's note, sources) (Historical mystery. 9-11)

From the Publisher

One of CCBC’s Best Books for Kids and Teens Fall 2020
One of CBC Books' Best Middle-Grade and Young Adult Books of 2020

PRAISE FOR The Body under the Piano:

"Pure delight—brimming with adventure, mystery and fun. I loved every character, every clue and every page. Now that I know all the answers, I have only one question left: why did this book have to end?" —Rebecca Stead, author of Newbery Award winner When You Reach Me

"Finished it at 5:20 am. Truly refreshing — a tour de force." —Gregory Maguire, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked

"Mystery lovers, you need to check it out!" —Kristin Cashore, author of the Graceling series

"Heartfelt, funny and suspenseful, The Body under the Piano is an excellent beginning to what is sure to be a pleasantly gruesome series." —Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

"Jocelyn offers an enjoyable entrée to the Queen of Crime and to the genre; the narrative’s arch tone, the girl’s vital grandmother, and the novel’s surfeit of extravagant teas should please." Publishers Weekly

"A remarkable, cool, and likable detective." —Kirkus Reviews

“Jocelyn keeps readers guessing throughout the book, but the eventual reveal of the perpetrator is believable, carefully clued, and satisfying. A solid dose of tart wit makes it an extra-enjoyable read.” —Horn Book Magazine

"Jocelyn offers young readers a cracking good read." —Globe and Mail

“There's a great deal of humour, adventure, excitement, derring-do and midnight scary things.” —CBC

"A delightful mystery . . . Fans of Christie and her famous detective Poirot will revel at the thought of these two joining forces as youngsters, and readers unfamiliar with the landmark author will find this an enticement to read more." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Compelling, splendidly surprising murder mystery." —Booklist

"Perhaps spring’s most sparkling debut." Toronto Star

"I wouldn't be surprised if 12-year-old Aggie Morton and Hector Perot capture the hearts of today's young readers much the way Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys did the kids of my generation." Montreal Gazette

"A robust, witty tale that will catch the attention of many readers." —Winnipeg Free Press

"Though mentions of ‘newsies’ and ‘petticoats’ may seem oldfangled, the book’s themes of women’s rights and immigration remain pointedly relevant . . . Aggie Morton can be counted on to reveal the truth — to the delight of middle-grade readers." Quill & Quire

"Skillfully structured and carefully paced for maximum suspense. Highly Recommended." —CM Reviews

“As the label on Jeever’s Lavender Pocket Salts located by Aggie cautions, 'Refuse Worthless Imitations' of this inventive book.” —Imaginary Elevators

“[A] delight from start to finish.” —Historical Novel Society

"Jocelyn’s narrative flows smoothly, her prose is crisp, and the charming old English town setting adds intrigue to the story." —Prairies Book Review

"This book [is] a wonderful way for Christie fans to introduce young readers to this literary hero." CityParent

"Readers will soon be caught up in the twists and turns of this remarkable novel." —Resource Links 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735265462
Publisher: Tundra
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Series: Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 134,733
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

Customer Reviews