Award-winning author Alan Bradley returns with another beguiling novel starring the insidiously clever and unflappable 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce. The precocious chemist with a passion for poisons uncovers a fresh slew of misdeeds in the hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey—mysteries involving a missing tot, a fortune-teller, and a corpse in Flavia’s own backyard.
Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse—that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce’s drawing room.
Pedaling Gladys, her faithful bicycle, across the countryside in search of clues to both crimes, Flavia uncovers some odd new twists. Most intriguing is her introduction to an elegant artist with a very special object in her possession—a portrait that sheds light on the biggest mystery of all: Who is Flavia?
As the red herrings pile up, Flavia must sort through clues fishy and foul to untangle dark deeds and dangerous secrets.
©2011 Alan Bradley (P)2011 Random House
“Flavia is incisive, cutting and hilarious . . . one of the most remarkable creations in recent literature.” (USA Today)
Alan Bradley excels in descriptive writing. There were times that I felt I was there, with Flavia, in the middle of a mystery. The problem was that it was not a good mystery. I really didn't like the story or the ending.
The character development was good, and this novel could have been converted into a drama, but the story line for the mystery, itself, meandered too much along the way going nowhere in particular until I lost interest.
The only reason I finished this one is because Jayne Entwistle's narration is so good that I just like to hear her read. She is an incredibly talented narrator who shines when she narrates different characters. She makes their voices and cadence very different each time, and she always adds drama to the plot with her intonations.
Overall, unless you're like me and you just like to hear Jayne Entwhistle reading something, skip this one.
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
It is challenging to say more about Flavia de Luce than has already been written. She is a precocious 11 year old, who seems to channel parts of the essence of older Bobbsey twins or a younger Nancy Drew--but this time for grownups. I loved Nancy Drew as a kid--and I feel as though this series touches some long forgotten place of delight & admiration I held for that clever adolescent when I was quite young!
Flavia, as most people now know, lives in a huge old house, which is burdened by debt, with her father (who is mostly concerned with his stamp collections), and two older sisters (almost as cruel as Cinderella's step sisters)--except they are full sisters who just spend all their time torturing Flavia, the youngest.
Flavia has been born with a talent and intellect that appear to be genius level, and as fate (and the writer) would have it, she has inherited the curiosity and analytical mind of her (late) Great Uncle Tarquin, who has left behind a full laboratory--complete with chemicals and scholarly books on chemistry. Naturally, by the time she has turned 11, she has mastered all of it--and so, in this rather quirky household, she turns to the laboratory and her knowledge of chemistry (as well as her quick mind for putting puzzles together) to help solve the murders and mysteries that tend to appear with regularity all around her.
In this case, she feels responsible for an old gypsy woman whom she consulted earlier in the day, when she winds up assaulted on the de Luce property in the middle of the night. She wants to find who would do this to her, and in her further adventures in that attempt, she learns of other mysterious doings that all (in the end) touch on the gypsy's plight.
One has to suspend a bit of belief of course, to enjoy the characterization of a child who cleverly solves murders that even elude the police. On the one hand, she has her young age and innocent look to help get her places that perhaps adults could only go with suspicion. She also has her great sidekick, the old bike she has named "Gladys." She has an unusual level of trust by the police (due to her previous successes) and is helped greatly by the family gardener and cook. But mostly, she just noses about, occasionally gets herself into real danger, but comes out in the end with the solution in hand.
While the mysteries are good,and the people (are deliberately--as suits the overall effrect) somewhat two dimensional, the real joy in these is the freshness of approach that Alan Bradley has used to create such a charming little character. And I would say that the narration is particularly difficult--because an adult having to simulate a child's voice through much of the book--cannot be easy. But I think that Jayne Entwhistle has done a wonderful job of achieving a credible child's voice. These are fun to listen to--made a bit easier when all the characters (and their attached personality traits) are absorbed. When I read the first one, I began it with some readiness not to enjoy it. But I have truly enjoyed them--especially for the realization that a grown man has done such an excellent job of creating an 11 year old girl for the heroine!
Flavia de Luce is a wonderful blend of youth and intellect.
Entwistle captures the immature of Flavia.
I have enjoyed other books in this series, and this title was very good. I love the humor and the chemical descriptions (being a chemistry girl, myself) and I think that the character of Flavia is extremely original. This book has charm as well as drama and suspense. I especially love her descriptions of her bicycle, Gladys.
Charm, Humor, and the narrator is wonderful. Just the right amount of indignation and wit.
The end choked me up, and in a book that is mostly humorous that's not really expected. There are poignant moments that really add to the storyline.
Excited to "read" more in this series!
Love the Flavia series! This is the 3rd one I've listened to and it's just as good as the first. The narrator, Jayne Entwistle, IS Flavia. She's perfect! Thank you Mr. Bradley for bringing us Flavia de Luce!
A frequent listener - mostly to mystery, police procedurals and science fantasy, with a few other bits and pieces thrown in. I live on a farm and run my own technical writing business, and listen to audiobooks while knitting and spinning yarn in my spare time.
Alan Bradley's writing about Flavia sometimes reminds me of myself, as a book-obsessed young girl with a passion for learning. I get completely lost in the story and don't notice the passage of time, which to me, is the mark of a great book!
Flavia's experiences with the rooster - having roosters of my own, I can entirely relate!
Definitely Flavia - she is charming. Jayne really brings her character to life.
I thought it was particularly moving when Flavia's father has the picture hung in her laboratory. I find the moments of softness between Flavia and her father to be very endearing.
Just a great series, and I look forward to further Flavia adventures.
This series is one of my favorites - although each book is intriguing in it's own right they are best read in order and it is delightful to watch the whole story unfold with each new book. We are watching Flavia grow up. And as I read each book, it is the best.
When the children were trapped in the tunnel.
The moments when her father begins to recognize Flavia's gifts.
Unraveling the secrets of the families of Bishops Lacey
Since this is an audio book I'm not sure of the spelling of the estate.
Definitely better. I've tried it both ways, and this is a book that's much better in audio form. Jayne Entwhistle is a genius.
the accents in the narration were difficult to follow and obscured what may have been a good story line...
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