Sunday, December 06, 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust

Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, January 2015; 392 pages

Publisher's Description:
Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.
My Thoughts:

I've read two other Flavia de Luce novels, and I've enjoyed them all. Of course, they all require a great deal of "suspension of disbelief" and this one is no different in that area. At least now that Flavia is all of twelve, it's a trifle less difficult to accept her amazing precocity in the realms of chemistry and crime detection. But just a trifle.

Something I found a bit disappointing, at first (and the reason I'm giving the book less than a four-star rating): I missed the English setting. I've come to look forward to Flavia's interactions with her family and everyone in the nearby village. I got used to the new surroundings, but it took a while.

This installment is a very fast read -- I finished it off in less than 24 hours, which is almost unheard of, for me. I'd definitely recommend the series to anyone who loves mystery fiction that's just slightly skewed, but I'd also recommend starting from the beginning (this one is #7 in the lineup). If you haven't read the book just preceding this one (The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches), "Chimney Sweepers" might be a little hard to follow at times. But still a fun read.

My Rating: ✭✭✭½ (out of a possible 6 stars - a solid "B")

Disclaimer: This review refers to an advance reader's copy of the book, provided free of charge by the publisher, through the NetGalley website. No other compensation was received, and no one attempted to influence my opinion of the book.

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