A Red Herring Without Mustard
I Am Half Sick of Shadows
Speaking From Among the Bones
(Flavia de Luce #3, #4, and #5)
By Alan Bradley
By Alan Bradley
After I received the newest Flavia de Luce mystery from Netgalley, I realized that I was woefully behind. So I did what any good bibliophile would do - picked up the the three books I needed to catch up on from the library and binge read them in a week. Here are my thoughts on the three books.
Each of the three books involves Flavia solving a mystery in her beloved village of Bishop's Lacey. In A Red Herring Without Mustard, Flavia discovers a newly befriended Gypsy woman nearly bludgeoned to death in her caravan. In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, financial trouble forces the de Luce family to open their beloved Buckshaw to a film crew. When the leading lady is murdered, everyone is a suspect. Then, in Speaking From Among the Bones, Flavia can't miss a good body so she makes sure to be on hand when the local church digs up St. Tancred, its patron saint. No one expected to find the body of the church organist as well!
Of the three, Speaking From Among the Bones was my favorite. It had great pacing, an engaging mystery, and fascinating character development. Bradley also used this book to really utilize characterization and plot points from previous books. This is also where you begin to feel that you are reading towards something - that something is decidedly the latest book The Death In Their Vaulted Arches. So now I want to discuss what I like about this series as a whole with regards to these three.
Flavia serves as our way into both the de Luce family and Bishop's Lacey. We meet all of the other characters through her 11 year old eyes. Much to Mr. Bradley's credit, the reader truly believes that this girl is capable of solving mysteries and expertly combining chemicals. But Flavia's (mis)adventures really serve a way for us to get to know the griefs and joys of the people she meets. We encounter many characters, including Flavia's father and Dogger, a member of the household staff, who are still reeling from the effects of World War II. Because Flavia is still a child, she goes mostly unnoticed and is privy to some very private moments of grief among her own family and among her neighbors and friends who have lost loved ones. These moments help Flavia to grow up but they also give us an intense and very well-crafted look into the ways that people deal with the horror of war and the pain of loss.
The Flavia de Luce stories are a perfect mix of several genres. While these books are categorized as mysteries, they are so much more than that. Readers get to experience the quaint village of Bishop's Lacey, where we meet quirky but painfully realistic characters. Mr. Bradley also shows us the visible and more insidious effects of a terrible war. At its very heart, we become a part of the de Luce family - the sibling squabbles, the family secrets, and the attempts of both adults and children to love each other in the best ways that they can.This is a series that no one should miss.