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Publisher's Summary

"The world's greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth" (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty new mystery novel from award-winning and New York Times best-selling author Alan Bradley.

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, 12-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly, something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia's grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia's mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder - although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.

©2018 Alan Bradley (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"If ever there were a sleuth who's bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it's Flavia de Luce." ( USA Today)
"Delightful...a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes." ( The Boston Globe)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Flavia is growing up!

I’ll have to say I was somewhat under impressed with the last couple of episodes in this series (despite that they had a lot of important life events for our young heroine, Flavia de Luce). This book appears to be marking a most definite transition point for her though, and I suspect future ones will be quite interesting to read.

If you have not read this series, you should start from the beginning, because even though this is a self-contained story, the back stories of the characters would make it much more understandable.

The family is trying to manage the passing away of their father, so they have chosen to spend time on a river trip. Flavia is dragging her hand through the water, and naturally (for her) she happens to snag a corpse. So even though this is a strange town, they have to stop, and quickly get involved in a larger mystery that the town people have been coping with. And, naturally, Flavia is up to the challenge. Dodger, the family watchdog (former military friend of her father) is increasingly playing a more prominent role, and it seems they are sharing the detective duties on this one, which seems to point to the direction of future books (to the good of the whole series, I think).

Flavia is delightful—she is everything a teenaged girl might aspire to be: clever, intelligent, brave, self-possessed, etc. And yet, she can be quite a little pest at times. Personally, I think I would like hearing a little less of her internal musings about chemical reactions, etc. All her scientific recitations reach the point where they seem more like filler for the book than information that adds to the story. I accept that she’s brilliant, but sometimes I’d like a little less of her technical info, and more showing how she puts it to use.

In the very first book, I thought the narrator was a bit off-putting. I am so sorry I ever thought that, because over the course of the series, the charming voice of Jayne Entwhistle has seemed to perfectly evoke the various tones of the precocious Flavia. Now I can’t imagine anyone else ever reading these books! In fact, I think I’m liking her reading almost more than the story. Jayne Entwhistle *is* Flavia for me now. Recommend!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Flavia is in the thick of it

As usual Flavia finds a conundrum of a death & doggedly works to solve it, this time without the help of her friend Inspector Hewitt. With Dogger by her side she teases out the threads of the tale to solve the mystery. Jayne Entwistle gives voice to the characters as only she can do. A fun tale of daring do & murder most foul.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Flavia is a delight

"Still, a quotation with the word 'embalm' in it could never be a bore."

That's how Flavia thinks. She's amazing. In this latest adventure she discovers (how does she keep doing this?) a body while drifting down a river with her family. That starts her on a trail of discovery involving murder, of course.

Flavia is growing up and this book is missing the attempted poisonings of her sisters and Flavia's interaction with her favorite Detective Inspector -until the end. And the story itself isn't up to the high standard of the previous books but it still rates 5 stars across the board for me. The narration of the audiobook is fabulous, as well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Nice to see them work together

Always delightful, Flavia finds a mystery with the usual complexity. Especially nice to see maturing in her relationship to her sisters. Looking forward to the next one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Oh Dogger, Art Thou Dearest

Would you listen to The Grave's a Fine and Private Place again? Why?

Jayne Entwistle is my favorite narrator and Alan Bradley can spin an intelligent cozy mystery that NEVER gets old or tiring.

What did you like best about this story?

I love the ability for the story to remain fresh and appealing with such gratifying attention to details. I also love that Dogger is beginning to become more of a bigger influence in the storyline. I'm keen to hear more of the other de Luce familia and acquaintances. This series can spin in many different ways, in my opinion.

What does Jayne Entwistle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jayne just envelopes the character and mannerisms of Flavia that I really have begun to think of them as one and the same. Jayne makes Flavia seem authentically real.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Old Arsenic & Chimerical Anecdotes

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The best in the series

Really outstanding. A wonderful story made even more rich and interesting with the telling. Very much looking forward to what to comes next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Flavia!

All books in this series are wonderful. This book is exceptional! Well worth your time and book credit!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Is this the end?

I hope this isn't the end of Flavia de Luce! I have loved listening to this series and the reader just draws me in every time. And before the newest book comes out, I always have to re-listen to the previous books... :)

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The Bad Part of this Book

The horrible thing about this book is that it’s over! I will miss Flavia and all the other characters so much. The world of Flavia is really “a fine and private place” for all of us who love the clever turn of phrase and joy of a well crafted mystery. Alan Bradley does it again! I can’t wait for the next installment.

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Flavia Returns

Great storyline and character development. This series has the potential for many more great Flavia and associate's adventures.