This book was really cute and enjoyable and full of just enough precociousness that I was entertained and not annoyed by the small child that is the protagonist. For yes, one Flavia Sabina de Luce, aged 11, is the heroine and crime-solver in this mystery. She also likes chemistry, especially poisons, and is kind of overbearingly smart but then I think so was I (in math, though, not in chemistry) at that age, so, you know. Can’t really complain.
Flavia’s mystery is one of murder and deceit and all the good things that crime stories are made of, set in a lovely little English town in the 1950s. One day, Flavia overhears her father arguing with a mysterious stranger in his office; the next, she is finding said mysterious stranger even more mysteriously dying in her garden. She hears his last word, “Vale” (Latin, of course!), and runs off to tell the police. Of course, the lead inspector condescends to our genius friend, and Flavia decides to go off and solve the crime herself. It’s a good time.
Some of Flavia’s experiences and the things she knew were a touch unbelievable, but not enough that I really cared. 🙂 Generally, the whole novel flowed really well together, and even when it didn’t — like during the middle section where Flavia’s father goes off on a ridiculously long stroll down Memory Lane (Memory Interstate?) — I learned so many probably true things about chemistry and philately and magic tricks that I was sufficiently amused. I was excited to note in the “About the Author” section that there will be a second Flavia de Luce mystery. Yay, science!
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.