Length: 9 hours 50 minutes
Series: Flavia de Luce, #2
Published by Random House Audio on March 9, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
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From Dagger Award–winning and internationally bestselling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.
Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.
Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Brontë sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?
From the Hardcover edition.
Another whimsical and captivating entry in the Flavia de Luce series pits eleven year old amateur detective Flavia against a new puzzling murder and a long ago death of a young boy that may have a bearing on the famous puppeteer’s demise.
Flavia is not just precocious, but rather a child protégé when it comes to chemistry, particularly poisons, and puzzling out a mystery. The de Luce household is somewhat ramshackle and eccentric both the estate and the family. It is a pleasure to slip into Flavia’s English countryside and village 1950-era world. She is both a terror and an engaging girl with a mind that observes and analyzes beyond the average adult.
I enjoyed this gently paced historical mystery. The author’s carefully painted historical setting, dialogues, and characters make the book just sparkle. It may have a child detective, but this is very much an adult level series with themes and elements aimed at an adult audience. That said, Flavia is written so that the reader/listener is convinced of her age while also finding her abilities and deductions equally believable. It is fun how one moment she is clever and cunning when on the hunt to solving the mystery and the other she is cat-fighting and pulling pranks on her older obnoxious sisters while avoiding the stern censure of her father. She understands so much about facts, but finds adults act in unfathomable ways at times. I about died laughing when she went to her father’s manservant to explain what was involved in ‘having an affair’ because she deduced he was likely to be her best bet for an answer. Poor old Dogger!
I will say that this book/series are more of an acquired taste in that I don’t think this will have universal appeal. It will depend on if the reader/listener likes a story that takes its time and also has a mischievous eleven year old as the principle character.
Jayne Entwistle continues to deliver a brilliant performance as the narrator. She voices all the characters so well even the added voice of a male German accented voice along with Flavia’s girl exuberance. There is something that she does to make it feel like the right era, too.
All in all, I had a great time and even burst into laughter several times over Flavia’s antics. Dogger the family handyman continues to be a favorite character as he fights his post-war stress demons and takes care of the family and particularly Flavia. I can’t wait for more from this unique historical mystery series that makes me think of Sherlock Holmes mashed with Addams’ Family.