Random House: 1/14/2014
Hardcover, 336 pages
Flavia de Luce Series #6
On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train’s arrival in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear. Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself. Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office—and making spectacular use of Harriet’s beloved Gipsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit—Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley is a highly recommended transitional novel that marks both an ending and a beginning for Flavia.
At the end of the last novel, Speaking from Among the Bones, it was known that Flavia's mother, Harriet de Luce, was coming home. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches opens in 1951 with Flavia and her family are awaiting the return of her long lost mother at the train station in this 6th Flavia de Luce novel. It is clear at the start that her mother's body is arriving, bringing much needed closure since her mother has been missing for over 10 years. But even during this somber and solemn time, a mystery presents itself when a stranger whispers an odd message, “the Gamekeeper is in jeopardy” to Flavia and is killed shortly afterwards. And what does Winston Churchill's odd comment to Flavia mean?
Flavia is the precocious almost 12 year old sleuth in this series of YA novels set in England. A chemistry prodigy, Flavia continues to share her incredible knowledge while solving the mysteries that are swirling around her. There is a little less interaction with her sisters this time around.
Since this is the sixth book in the series most readers will already be acquainted with Flavia and her proclivities and investigative skills. I will admit that I was less enchanted with Flavia in her first book (I found her annoying). I like her much better now, later in the series. This was a great addition to the franchise of books, but is also a transitional book. By the end of the book it is clear that changes are in store for Flavia, changes which can only enhance future escapades. And make no mistake, clearly there will be future adventures and mysteries for her to solve.
I am not giving The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches my highest rating simply because of the transitional nature of this story.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House via Netgalley for review purposes.