If you’ve been around here for a while, you might know of my love-exasperation relationship with these Flavia de Luce novels. On the one hand, as soon as I see a new one my brain says YOU MUST READ THAT. On the other hand, as soon as I start reading I am like, seriously, what is wrong with this town? Why do people keep dying horrible deaths here? Why is an 11-year-old solving these crimes as well as or better than the real detectives? Why has no one grounded Flavia for life for all the rules and trusts and things she breaks?
But then on my third hand, which I keep for such occasions as this, I love Flavia because once you get her out of her detective brain she is a sweet if overly precocious kid who just wants to be more or less normal. This installment of her adventures starts with an attempt by her to prove scientifically that she is actually a part of her family, since her two older sisters often “inform” her that she is a reluctantly adopted feral child raised by gorillas or whatever, because sisters are mean (yes, yes we are).
Of course, the story can’t stop there because this is a mystery series, and so Flavia gets caught up in first the disentombment at her church of its namesake, St. Tancred, and then quickly after that the investigation into why a missing church organist was found super-dead atop said tomb. Seriously, people, get out of Bishop’s Lacey, it is dangerous.
I quite liked the return to mystery from the get-go, as opposed to the half-mystery of the second and fourth novels (somehow I sense I will be upset again in the sixth…), and I very much liked how this mystery introduced us to a lot of new characters in Bishop’s Lacey and environs, including a strange man locked in a tower who thinks Flavia (who has of course broken in to see him) is her mother. Although there have been way too many murders for Flavia to solve lately, the real thrust of this series, is, I think, Flavia solving those mysteries of childhood — who are these people who live in my town, how do they know me and my parents, is it possible that my parents were real people before they were my parents?
And that last line, oh my heavens. Alan Bradley, you know how to make me come back for more. But you’d better deliver!
Recommendation: I’m back on board with this series, which I really hope doesn’t become an every-other-novel thing. But seriously, if nothing else go read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie because delightful.