I fell in love with Flavia de Luce when I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and have followed her adventures avidly ever since. Throughout the series she remains eleven years old and each book follows on directly from the previous one, so I recommend reading them in order. I felt there was a slight falling off with I am Half-Sick of Shadows but in Speaking From Among the Bones Flavia was back on form. A fiendishly ingenious murder mystery was solved yet again by Flavia’s ferocious intelligence, complete disregard for her own safety and of course, the resources of her chemistry lab. and her trusty bicycle, Gladys.
The new book, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (out next January) is different in tone; Flavia’s voice has changed slightly, which entirely suits the circumstances. Throughout the series, it’s been obvious that there is some deep mystery attached to the death of Flavia’s mother Harriet in the Himalayas. This book opens with the family and half the village waiting at the railway station for Harriet’s return. The homecoming is not quite what you might expect and is made more bizarre by the presence of Winston Churchill and the sudden death of a stranger, apparently pushed under the train. It’s impossible to outline the plot without giving massive spoilers so I’ll just say that many things which were previously hidden from Flavia are suddenly made clear. Of course, she solves the mystery, but that’s only part of the story, which manages to be at the same time funny (as Flavia always is) and dreadfully sad. It’s not just a good detective story but a good novel. If Alan Bradley chose to end the Flavia series right here it would be logical, but I so hope he won’t!
I read this book (at great speed) courtesy of NetGalley and I simply loved it.