Author: Alan Bradley
Provided Synopsis: 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.
Review: I have gushed about this series for so many months that I feel as if all of the points I want to say are obvious to those of you that have fallen in love with Flavia de Luce as much as I have. I cannot give as much praise to Alan Bradley as he deserves — this is an author that has revitalized the cozy mystery genre. Flavia is one of my favorite narrative voices of all-time, and my love and respect for her grows with each book. She is precocious, she is loveable, and she is intelligent; she manages to gallivant across the English countryside solving mysteries that the police cannot figure out. She continues to develop with each book in the ways that I suspect an eleven-year-old would. This character is everything that a character-loving reader desires.
Much of the charm of Flavia and this series also falls upon the supporting cast of characters that comprise the town of Bishop’s Lacey. Each of these characters has also developed over the books. Being such a small village there is very little that the other villagers do not know, and their tendency towards gossip is what assists Flavia to solve so many cases. In this book, the organist of the village church is found dead in the tomb of the village’s patron saint. Over his face is a gas mask with a bit of lace peeking out. And of course, Flavia is the one to discover his body and launch into an investigation. But unlike in previous books, our sleuth cannot always keep her mind upon the case when there are so many other circumstances swarming around her and her family. With the major cliffhanger that was dropped in the final sentence of this installment I long to know what will happen next. How will Flavia recover? How will she be able to solve mysteries now that the world has shifted beneath her feet?
I do not doubt that she will find her way, but I am also very interested to see how she will adapt to the changes that now seem inevitable. There is so much more development on the horizon. The plot of these stories (and the mysteries that always include) continues to surprise me as a reader — and I absolutely love this! I can’t wait for the next book to be released in 2014!