Flavia de Luce is back! In Alan Bradley’s new novel, Speaking from Among the Bones, the 11-year-old detective is once again solving mysteries using her remarkable scientific and sleuthing skills. Buckshaw’s patron saint, St. Tancred, is about to be exhumed on the 500th anniversary of his death. When the tomb is opened, a priceless object is missing. Strangely enough, Mr. Collicutt, the organist at St. Tancred’s, is also missing. When a body is found in the tomb, Flavia cannot resist getting involved.
Solving the mystery takes Flavia to some very strange places. She not only explores the crypt but also wanders through the church graveyard and falls into a grave: “I realized instantly that the smelly sludge which I had just smeared onto my face was all that remained of Cassandra Cottlestone and her neighbors.” (p. 79) Her investigations lead to many revelations. She discovers the vicar’s poignant history and learns more about her own mother, who disappeared shortly after her birth.
As she follows the clues, Flavia also deals with her complicated home life. Older sister Feely is replacing Mr. Collicutt as the church organist and is engaged to be married. Daffy, Flavia’s other sister, is as annoying as ever. However, Flavia’s biggest concern is that her father’s fears about their financial situation will become a reality. They are forced to give up Buckshaw, their family home. How will the family survive without Buckshaw?
Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce continues to be one of the most intriguing characters of the modern mystery genre. Her deductive skills are unmatched, her scientific knowledge vast: “I’ve mentioned before my passion for poisons and my special fondness for cyanide.” (p. 65) Her father warns Flavia that she has been given “the fatal gift of genius” (p. 184), which will complicate her life. Readers will be fascinated by her complicated family relationships. Her sisters constantly try to convince her that she is adopted, but they also fiercely defend her to others. Her eccentric father tries desperately to rebuild the family finances and wanders around the house in a deep depression. However, the family pulls together when Buckshaw is put up for sale.
The Flavia de Luce series (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring without Mustard and I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) has been translated into 31 languages. The bestselling books have won several awards, including the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel (2010), the Debut Dagger Award (2007) and the Dilys Award (2009). Sam Mendes has optioned the rights for television. This fifth Flavia de Luce novel is a marvellous read for those readers just meeting Flavia for the first time, while long-time fans will be enthralled as well. This mystery is not to be missed—particularly because the last line of the novel will absolutely shock readers.