It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.
©2011 Alan Bradley (P)2011 Random House
"If ever there was a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce.” (USA Today)
The writing (words actually used) is too mature for the younger crowd but the story line is too young for the older crowd. So, it doesn't really fit...
The main character is delightfully precocious but is mentally way beyond her age as the author tells it. (i.e. she notes a look of "contempt" on a man's face. Eleven year-olds -- even very smart ones -- are highly unlikely to note such a look, and even if they did, they wouldn't use the word contempt to describe it. I don't know many forty year-olds who really know what that word means.)
The writing is descriptive -- which I like, but some might think it unnecessarily wordy. And the dichotomy of characters being all good or all evil quickly gets boring.
The author puts every character into their neat little box: the curmudgeonly widowed father, the haughty butler, the simple cook, the mean older sisters, the evil actress, the jocular movie set manager. All laid out within the first few chapters -- all that is left to learn is the how-of-it. Not much fun when you're looking for a good who-dun-it. And because of the perfect boxes there are no character surprises to bring on a little serendipity.
(Narration was very good.)
Ok, I admit I am a Flavia de Luce fan! She is a remarkable 11 year old girl who uses her powers of observation and love of chemistry to solve crimes. The narrator does a great job presenting Flavia's quirkiness. I hope there will be more Flavia stories--I'll download them as soon as they are available!
Alan Bradley's precocious heroine, Flavia de Luce is refreshing. His books are definitely originals, including the titles. I have enjoyed all of Mr. Bradley's books, both in print and audio, and Jayne Entwistle's narration is flawless and perfect for all the characters, especially Flavia's. Please, whoever decided narrators, I beg you to do all possible to keep Ms. Entwistle as the narrator of this series.
For anyone who has not read any of the Flavia de Luce books by Mr. Bradley, I recommend starting with the first one, "Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" and continue to read/listen to them in order. While each book can stand alone, a deeper appreciation for the characters is achieved by reading each book in the order they were written.
Previous Flavia adventures had her riding all over the countryside around Bishop's Lacy on her trusty bicycle, Gladys. I am Half Sick of Shadows is set almost entirely in the big, deteriorating mansion the de Luce's call home and Gladys has been put away for the winter. A parade of strangers and locals find themselves trapped in the mansion on Christmas Eve due to a huge snowstorm....and there is a murder to solve! Flavia does her usual magic with chemical concoctions and her keen deductive mind to come up with the answers, but not without some hard knocks along the way.
If there had been more stars to add to the ratings, I would have done so.
I'm a huge fan of the Flavia series, but this is the first one that I've heard on audio. I thought that Jayne Entwistle did a great job! The actual mystery wasn't great, but I love Flavia's character and listening to how her mind works!
Yes, but I would definitely start with the first book in the series.
Flavia, of course!
I've read all of the previous books in the series but this is the first one I've listened to. I loved Ms. Entwistle's portrayal of Flavia...it was the voice I'd been hearing in my head.
It is always interesting to see how Flavia manages to find herself in the middle of mayhem.
If I had the time.
A good read!
I'm sure the books are fun to read, but what really makes it for me is Jayne Entwistle. No one else could "voice" Flavia so perfectly. Not inseparable from reality (I mean a child who is an expert in chemistry and poisons?), but who cares. The story goes on to make me feel like I'm running around solving mysteries with her and her rickety bike (I wonder if Gladys could carry us both?). Read the books, or better yet, listen to them.
I always look forward to the latest Alan Bradley audiobook, and this one does not disappoint.
Jayne Entwistle perfectly captures the eccentric Flavia, who reminds me of a talented-and-gifted version of Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family cartoons--an eleven-year-old chemistry nerd loaded to the gills with irony.
Flavia is fresh voice amongst all the jaded detectives out there. She's a wonderful mixture of cleverness and naivete. I am looking forward to next Flavia story.
Flavia, of course. She's a breath of fresh air.
I like this Flavia de Luce series - but maybe not as much as I wish I did. The main character being a child gets old quickly for me. I read the first in the series and realized I wouldn't read any others--- but listening to the holiday mystery at Christmas time seemed like a nice prospect. This isn't much of a mystery-- it's very character-driven and well-written, but in my mind not a mystery. Still, it was nice to listen to-- well-narrated and put me in a festive mood.
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