Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
Random House, 1/29/2013
Hardcover, 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385344036
Flavia de Luce Series #5

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.

My Thoughts:
Flavia de Luce is back in Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley. It is set in the early 1950s in Bishop's Lacey, England, where Flavia resides with her father and two older sisters. In this outing it is the 500th anniversary of the death of St. Tancred whose remains are buried in the church's cemetery. When the tomb is to be opened, Flavia makes sure she is on the scene to be one of the first to see the body. To everyone's horror, the body in the tomb, observed first by Flavia, is that of the presumed missing but actually murdered church organist, Mr. Collicutt. In this cozy British mystery eleven-year-old Flavia, precocious Chemist and investigator, follows all leads, while riding her bicycle, Gladys.
After reading the first Flavia de Luce book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, I'll have to admit that by the end of the book, I found Flavia annoying. That was not the case in this 5th book. I'm glad I gave Flavia another chance because I actually enjoyed her much more this time around. I do think that Bradley is giving us a more mature Flavia. While she has always been competent, she's now relating better to those around her and her reactions seem to also be more sophisticated.  It was refreshing to see this maturity and growth emerge in her character. 
Speaking from Among the Bones is fast-paced and is extremely well written mystery. I found this fifth novel in the series very enjoyable and would very highly recommend it.
Since I have read the first book and now the fifth in the series, I can say with some degree of certainty that you do not have to read all the books in order, however, as with any series, reading the books in order may provide additional background that can be missed when jumping into the middle of the series.

The five books in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce Series are: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, and Speaking from Among the Bones. There are five more novels to be published and apparently several made-for-television movies are in the works.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition of the advanced reading copy was courtesy of Random House and Netgalley for review purposes.

Excerpt: first chapter

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