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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“Flavia is incisive, cutting and hilarious . . . one of the most remarkable creations in recent literature.” (USA Today)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Kelli
  • Meridian, ID, United States
  • 02-28-11

An excellent addition to the series!

I loved the first two books in this series, and enjoyed this one even more. There are mysteries beyond each individual book that seem to be revealing themselves, and each contains a variety of interrelated stories surrounding colorful characters who become old friends. The story is sometimes very dark, sometimes very funny, as is Flavia herself. She can be a spoiled brat, a helpful neighbor, a sensitive soul, and a morbid sneak. All of these elements of her personality are captured perfectly by Jane Entwistle, the narrator. Although Flavia is a young girl from an aristocratic family of 1950s England, I find her easy to relate to and her world easy to imagine with the vivid descriptions by the author. Although the narration is from the perspective of a child, I don't see the series as children's books, though I think I would have loved them as a young teen. I'm looking forward to hearing about future developments in the fourth book.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Vicki
  • Newton, NJ, United States
  • 03-04-11

Best One Yet...

...and I enjoyed the first two immensely. Jayne is the perfect narrator for Flavia, a character that could be ruined so easily if given the wrong voice. Entwhistle's narration gives depth and insight into this unique, precocious, engaging young girl.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Adult and Family Fare

Mr. Bradley, in his 70's, has caught the flair of a 12-year-old girl for local adventure, impish pranks, and self-analysis. If you can catch him on a book tour, do so. He is as entertaining in person as he is in his writing, and this series is matchless.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Clever and poignant with a spot-on narration

Reminds me of Haven Kimmel (A Girl Named Zippy), had she grown up in post-war England in a family of the declining gentry and a passion for chemistry and solving mysteries. Same laugh-out-loud, tear-in-the-eye observant take on an adventurous girl's childhood. Hard to imagine Flavia's voice in any other than Jayne Entwistle's. This is a series I only listen to, thanks to the pitch-perfect narration.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 05-22-11

captivating.

The first two Flavia de Luce novels had me searching for other titles from the same author, searching every few days for a sequel. This is an author that you wait for in anxious anticipation. Jayne Entwistle's voice is the perfect Flavia, and this book in the series does not disappoint.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Carryn
  • Philadelphia, PA, US
  • 02-25-13

Good story/series, GREAT reader

When I started my first Flavia de Luce book, my thought on hearing the voice of Flavia was, oh no, it's Veruca Salt, can I listen to this for hours? Well, as it turns out, Flavia is a sort of a Veruca Salt who keeps that dark side in check. I admire the author's masterful way of allowing this brilliant mini-chemist/crime solver to outwit the police one minute yet return to being a little girl the next, trying to understand her older sisters' ascent into adulthood and her father dealing with the travails of adult life. She is actually a lonely little girl who misses the dead mother she never knew, gets little attention from her withdrawn father, and whose only friend seems to be her bike, which she has named Gladys. That no one pays particular attention to Flavia allows her to roam around the town poking her nose into the latest scandal or death. For one thinking they are interested in following the series, may I recommend starting at the beginning - though it certainly is not necessary. It's just that I found the actual mystery in this book to take a back seat to small revelations about Flavia as a character. It was nice to have gotten to know her in the previous books to appreciate these details. This series is just great entertainment for any anglophile. Jayne Entwistle is simply astounding in her narration, 5+ starts in my book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • Layton, UT, United States
  • 04-08-12

Addicted to Flavia

Ever since the first book, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, I have been hooked on Flavia DeLuce. Narrator Jayne Entwistle really brings her to life and I am transported back to England. Even though Flavia fancies herself a pint-size sleuth and smarter than most adults, she frequently is clueless about what adults really think. Yet somehow she always seems to figure out whodunit. This third book does not disappoint. In fact, I just finished reading it and had to hurry to this web site to see if there is another. And there is! Yay!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen
  • Soddy Daisy, United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • 10-25-11

Another great Flavia mystery!

I adore these Flavia de Luce novels! And the narrator is so very enjoyable. I can hardly wait for Mr. Bradley to finish the next one.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Entertainment

This is one of those stories that is written to be read aloud by a talented reader - and that is just what you get. It is an excellent story, with great wit and a constant underlying pang of empathy for the main character and her family. And the reader, Jayne Entwistle, makes me believe that she IS Flavia DeLuce. The only problem is that I wish Bradley could write more quickly, as I am impatient to see where he takes this wonderful, self-confident, eccentric heroine next...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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"Oh, there you are, you odious little prawn."

This series is so much fun. Flavia is such a smart, cheeky little thing and she and her sisters have some of the most entertaining name-calling exchanges!

"Oh, there you are, you odious little prawn." "How dare you call me a prawn, you stupid sausage?" "My sister could be a most unpleasant porpoise when she felt like it."

And the imagery, metaphors, and similes!

“I had long ago discovered that when a word or formula refused to come to mind the best thing for it was to think of something else: tigers for instance or oatmeal. Then when the fugitive word was least expecting it I would suddenly turn the full blaze of my attention back onto it catching the culprit in the beam of my mental torch before it could sneak off again into the darkness."

This is the third book in the series and I intend to keep listening so long as Jayne Entwistle is the narrator. She's the perfect Flavia!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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