The Flavia de Luce series continues, and Alan Bradley once more manages to keep enough of the same old conflicts to keep us happy, but at the same time moves the overall plotline of the De Luce family forward to keep us entertained. Character development is his watchphrase. In this case, the poisonous relationship between the sisters, exacerbated by the death of their father, seems to fade and mature. Likewise there is good news for Dogger, Flavia’s devoted servant, who actually develops a past and even an old friend.
The rest of the book is populated with the usual slew of oddball personalities, all neatly dissected by the incisive wit of our heroine.
Flavia’s ghoulish obsession with poisons and their effects on the human body still remains an action-stopper, but we have gone from loving it in the first book to hating it through succeeding volumes, and now we almost welcome it as we do the familiar twinge of an old injury. It reminds us that the world is going its usual course. Like the man banging his head against the stone wall, we know it will feel so good when she stops.
The mystery itself is complex and quirky, cross pollenated with a two-year-old crime of greater magnitude and fame. Action, as already mentioned, meanders at an uneven pace, but the final, suspenseful heroine-in-peril scene is enough to raise the hairs on your neck.
Not the best Flavia de Luce novel, but definitely a keeper.
(5 / 5)