written by Alan Brady
reviewed by The Fourth Tuesday Mystery and Book Club
There are many varieties of detectives in mystery fiction, but none are quite like Flavia de Luce. She is a bold, precocious eleven-year-old sleuth who loves chemistry, especially the study of poison. Life is full of learning experiences, such as an especially interesting one when she finds a dying man in the garden of her home. He provides her with a clue to his murder. To protect her loved ones, she attempts to solve the mystery of his death.
Life at Buckshaw, the old English estate of the de Luce family, is filled with solitude for Flavia. Her sisters do not like her, and her father, the Colonel, is absorbed in his stamp collection. The people that are closest to her and that show love to Flavia are the “hired help,” Mrs. Mullet, the cook who produces inedible food, and Dogger, the sometimes disturbed but loyal servant to her father. Harriet, her mother, had died when Flavia was very young. The eleven-year-old genius focuses all of her time on her chemistry lab in one of the tall towers of the estate, plotting revenge on her sisters or heating up tea.
Her adventure begins after she overhears her father arguing in his study with a strange man. She hears the Colonel admit that the two had killed someone. This worries Flavia and keeps her awake that night. She goes to the garden and discovers the stranger dying, breathing his last word, “Vale.” This leads our young detective on an adventure to understand a decade old suicide and the mysterious relationship of her father with the dead man. The story involves magic, secrets, and many twists and turns. Before the mystery is solved, Flavia’s life is threatened, and she must escape from an evil murderer.
The author of the book, Alan Bradley, is a first time novelist at the age of 70. It is a shame he waited this long to provide us with such a treasure. The best news is that he is in the process of producing a series of Flavia de Luce mysteries. We highly recommend the eleven-year-old “Sherlock” and her adventures. We think you will enjoy her as much as we did.
Key Ideas from different club members:
What a great book! Enjoyed the characters; Characters described well; Fun to read about an eleven year old detective; Flavia was a witty, charming character; Interesting little girl; She reminds me of a young Nancy Drew; Dogger is a great character; Cute, easy read; Lots of twists and turns to the story; Well written, easy to follow; Loved the book; Will read the next books in series.
The Club Members rating of this book:
Linda Bowman, Pat Gombita, Mona Herrell, Pat Kuna, Lee Ann Schrock, Bill Simmons, Helen Skalski, Deb Stewart, Barb Swanson, and Linda Troll
Club’s Average Rating: 4.4 of 5 Rating Range: 3 to 5