Friday, February 15, 2013


Blending wit, imagination and mystery Alan Bradley created an enchanting protagonist in the person of pre-teen Flavia de Luce.  She’s a chemistry master, an intrepid amateur sleuth fascinated by poison and death.  Fearless, intelligent and often the bane of her father and two sisters she’ll go anywhere she smells a crime on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, a two-wheeler that “squeaked with delight as we rattled through the rain.”

Bradley captured a passel of fans with Flavia’s debut The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie, garnered more with The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag and A Red Herring Without Mustard.  I, among hosts of others,  eagerly awaited Flavia’s next adventure.  With her latest, Speaking From Among the Bones,  her father explains her gift or idiosyncracy (whichever
you prefer) by saying, “As was your mother, you have been given the fatal gift of genius.  Because of it, your life will not be an easy one - nor must you expect it to be.  You must remember always that great gifts come at great cost.  Are there any questions?”

Life certainly wasn’t easy for Flavia in her fifth adventure as she finds herself discovering a dead body and tumbling into graves during her unsolicited investigation.  The year is 1951 and it is the 500th anniversary of St. Tancred’s death.  The church in Flavia’s village is named after him, and to commemorate the anniversary occasion his tomb will be opened.  Nothing could excite Flavia more.  She cannot contain herself  or her curiosity so while she does some solo exploration she discovers the church organist - murdered.

With each late night foray on Gladys we’re reminded of Flavia’s dismissal from the Girl Guides for excessive high spirits or some such.  Yes, that’s true the girl is dauntless and readers are held in thrall as she risks life, limb and Gladys to find answers.

Bradley peoples his story not only with the impossible but irresistible Flavia but a host of other fascinating characters.  One can only impatiently await her next adventure and hope that Flavia never grows up.

Once again, Los Angeles actress Jayne Entitle delivers a can't-stop-listening-to narration.


- Gail Cooke

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