I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia De Luce, #4)I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This installment in the Flavia de Luce series felt more like a Christmas special than a full-length feature. We get cameo appearances of previous characters (charming but serving no purpose) all thrown together at Buckshaw during a winter storm. The plot is pretty thin, and the mystery seems very contrived. The characters involved are never really brought to life, so the murder and its resolution are relatively lackluster. Oh well. There is still plenty of charm with Flavia and her relationships with her sisters, her father, Dogger, and the Inspector.

Book Description: It’s Christmastime, and Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

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A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading or re-reading this series. I am listening to the audio versions so wonderfully narrated by Jayne Entwistle, but I have also purchased these for my e-reader to savor again later. We are beginning to see themes that hopefully will be resolved in the future, especially the mystery surrounding Flavia’s mother and how she died.

Description: When a Gypsy caravan is passing through town, Flavia has a soothsayer read her fortune. Later, the old fortune teller is found bludgeoned in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse—that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce’s drawing room. Pedaling Gladys, her faithful bicycle, across the countryside in search of clues to both crimes, Flavia uncovers some odd new twists. As the red herrings pile up, Flavia must sort through clues fishy and foul to untangle dark deeds and dangerous secrets.

 

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce, #2)The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first book in this series was such a brilliant debut, that I just couldn’t give this one 5 stars, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it immensely. Flavia is a wonderful, precocious, almost scary child. The mystery wasn’t quite as compelling in this one – Flavia is never in any great danger – so it comes across as more of a cozy than the first book. But we have all of the same wonderful characters and a few new ones – Dieter, a German POW, Mad Meg, and Aunt Felicity, who might be the only adult who understands and appreciates Flavia. And we have some delightfully humorous situations – the vicar naked in the woods, the two tea room ladies with their Russian samovar (almost a character in its own right), Mad Meg and her penchant for shiny objects, Flavia’s sisters constant attempts to convince Flavia that she is adopted, and the opening with Flavia imagining her own funeral. I recently “reread” the first book on audio, and followed up with this one. The narrator Jayne Entwistle has the perfect voice for Flavia. Highly recommended.

Book Description: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously smart eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey are over—until beloved puppeteer Rupert Porson has his own strings sizzled in an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. But who’d do such a thing, and why? Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What about Porson’s charming but erratic assistant? All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?