The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan BradleyPenguin Random House: 1/30/18
eBook review copy; 384 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780345539991
Flavia de Luce Novel #9
The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley is a very highly recommended mystery and the 9th book in the popular Flavia de Luce series.
Set in England in 1952, twelve-year-old Flavia and her family hare trying to recover from the family tragedy in the last book. Concerned that she will soon have to live under the iron rule of her Aunt Felicity, it is a pleasant relief when Arthur Dogger, the long-time and loyal family servant, suggests an extended boating trip to Volesthorpe for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt passes the church where Canon Whitbread poisoned three of his parishioners, Flavia is discussing the poisoning with Dogger while trailing her hands in the water. When her fingers hook on something in the water, she imagines she has just caught a fish with her bare hands. Instead, as she struggles to pull the object closer, she sees that her fingers have snagged the open mouth of a head, attacked to a body. Dogger poles the boat to shore and the murder investigation begins.
The body is identified as that of Orlando Whitbread, the son of the notorious poisoner. Constable J.R. Otter is sure it is a suicide, but Flavia and Dogger are quietly working on their own investigations. Flavia has a chance to use some of the investigative techniques she has learned from Inspector Hewitt. She and Dogger get to rig up a lab for some private testing. The two also uncover other clues. In the meantime, Flavia's older sisters, Feely and Daffy, are actually not quite as truculent and, dare I say, even a bit helpful this time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest Flavia de Luce adventure and appreciate that she is solving a mystery here, using her knowledge of chemistry and sleuthing skills to figure out what exactly is going on. This is a strong addition to the series with memorable supporting characters, strong clues, and some real growth and development in the characters we know. Dogger shines in his role. I really think that you could jump in and read this one on its own, although in a long running series it is nice to read the books in order to follow the character development and the relationships between people.
Bradley has always been an excellent writer and all the books in the series are interesting, but I liked this one a bit more than some of the previous installments. The actual ending was very satisfying and gave me something to look forward to in the future.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Random House via Netgalley.