If you’ve read any of the previous Flavia de Luce books, of which there are now many, you’ll know that any outing with Flavia is a delight. These stories are technically murder mysteries but are more about their heroine than anything else. She is curious, precocious, a lover of chemistry, an annoyed youngest sister and proud sleuth.
In this latest novel, Flavia has just returned from her abbreviated stay at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada to find that her beloved father is in the hospital battling pneumonia and her irritating young cousin Undine is still underfoot. She goes to visit the vicar’s wife and is all too happy to run an errand for her: to take a letter to a man who does wood carving for churches. When she finds him dead, hanging upside-down on a strange contraption on the back of his bedroom door, Flavia’s life all of a sudden becomes brighter. Because who doesn’t love a good murder investigation?
Flavia takes her time getting a good look at the body and the immaculate room in which it has been residing. She then goes about connecting the dots with various clues she finds in the room and goes around town and even to London to undertake some interviews and reconnect with a teacher from the academy who returned to England with her on the boat.
As she goes about her investigation, Flavia is mostly distracted from her worry about her sick father and the family’s continuing money problems stemming from the years of her mother’s estate being in limbo. She has a few opportunities to enjoy connecting with Inspector Hewitt and his sweet wife and other adults she admires. All in all, it’s a fun ride for her and the reader.
This go-round wasn’t the most “mysterious” of all the mysteries; I saw much of it coming from a mile away. But, again, since it’s more about time spent with Flavia and her charms, and chuckling a good deal, that’s almost neither here nor there. I’ll keep reading as long as Alan Bradley keeps writing.
Rated: Mild, for a couple uses of mild language and some detail on the state of dead bodies.
* I received an advanced reader’s e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.