There are two types of readers of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce mysteries; those who love the girl, and those who just don't get her appeal. Count me in the first camp. It's hard to resist this almost twelve-year-old girl with her love of poisons, chemistry, death, and her passion for her family who she just doesn't understand. She's immature when it comes to the ways of the world, yet wise beyond her years at times. And, it's all evident in Speaking from Among the Bones, the latest book in the series.
It's the week before Easter in 1951. Flavia's sister, Feely, is going to make her debut at St. Tancred's since the organist disappeared. But, before that, a team of archaeologists are due to arrive at the church in Bishop's Lacey to dig up the bones of the saint on the five hundredth anniversary of his death. A long dead body is just up Flavia's alley. So is the dead body, that of the organist, that she finds in the church crypt.
Flavia and her trusty steed, her bicycle, Gladys, spend a great deal of time in the cemetery and church in this mystery. It's a story that brings together all of Flavia's knowledge of chemistry, her knowledge of death, and the secrets of the village of Bishop's Lacey. Bradley also introduces a new character to provide Flavia with local history, Adam Sowerby, a "Flora-archaeologist", a man with a mysterious background. Even with a new investigator and the return of Inspector Hewitt, it still takes the wisdom of a prodigy to tie all the clues together.
Little changes in Flavia's world. She's still almost twelve, living with her father and two sisters at Buckshaw, the house her mother, Harriet, inherited. However, when Harriet disappeared, Flavia's father could no longer pay the taxes and the upkeep. It's this family life that makes Flavia a sympathetic character. She longs for love in a family where everyone is living isolated lives. Her older sisters tell her horrid stories while she longs for their affection. She's left to fend for herself in her daily life, while the only person who truly understands her is her father's "man", Dogger. Flavia may be a brilliant prodigy, but she's a needy child at the same time. If she were only a child detective, she might be an impossible character to like. It's the child in her that makes her sympathetic.
Little changes in Flavia's world, as I said. But, this time, Alan Bradley has a trick or two up his sleeve as Buckshaw goes up for sale, and Flavia's father has the final word, leaving readers hanging at the end of the book. Flavia de Luce fans will definitely want to return after reading Speaking from Among the Bones.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.