Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies.
Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.
This fifth offering from Alan Bradley featuring the young (and homicidally inclined) Flavia de Luce is a wonderful addition to the series. Though the fourth book focused more on Flavia's development than the murder, this book skillfully blends the two into a masterpiece of a mystery.
It certainly seems Bishop's Lacey is a magnet for murder, but as usual Flavia is on the spot to do a bit of detecting. The mystery this time arond is much more nuanced, and allows for a suitably nuanced picture of Flavia to emerge as well. As she goes about solving the murder with panache, she is also coping with a much more complicated mystery- the mystery of growing up.
From start to finish this book pulled me along with Flavia and her band of misfit friends and relatives. The murder mystery is tight, Flavia's development is both realistically and empathetically presented, and the cliffhanger of an ending a delightful shock.
This is a must read for anyone following the series, and the series is a must read for anyone who loves a good mystery. Now I'm hanging on the edge of my seat, waiting for #6!