I am a huge fan of Alan Bradley’s mystery novels featuring Flavia de Luce, a young girl growing up in the small village of Bishop’s Lacey in England in the 1950s.
I’ve reviewed previous books in this series, and I have loved them all.
The newest installment in the series, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, is the sixth book, and one of the best so far.
The fifth novel closed on a complete cliffhanger – spoiler alert here – as Flavia’s father announces that her long-lost mother, Harriet, has been found.
The sixth book opens with Flavia and her family gathered at the railroad station to await Harriet’s arrival. Of course, murder and mystery are ever present, as a mysterious stranger whispers to Flavia that the “gamekeeper” is in jeopardy and to tell her father this important message. Suddenly, he is dead, pushed under the wheels of the oncoming train. In all the confusion, Flavia momentarily forgets his words, but later, back at the family estate of Buckshaw, she remembers his cryptic message.
Who was this man?
Who would want him silenced?
And who is the Gamekeeper?
Flavia puts her detective skills to work to solve this mystery and in doing so, uncovers some long buried family secrets that put Flavia herself in jeopardy.
Over the course of this series, Bradley first introduces us to this quirky young girl, with her fascination for chemistry – especially poisons – and her equally eccentric family, and then gradually allows Flavia to grow and mature. The author very skillfully allows her moments of maturity to shine through, but she is still the spunky girl with pluck and a talent for little white lies that we’ve come to know so well.
I have listened to the audio version of all six books, simply because the reader is brilliant! She brings Flavia to life perfectly, and with such a distinctive voice. If I were to read the novels now, I would hear Flavia’s voice in my head, no doubt about it.
The best news?
There is a seventh book in the works, but no title has been announced yet. I can’t wait to follow Flavia on her future adventures. If you haven’t tried any of Alan Bradley’s books, you are missing out on one of the most delightful characters in fiction. They should really be read in order, though, as we only go through a year of Flavia’s life. Start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
You’ll be glad you did!