Number of pages: 358
Publisher: DoubleDay Canada
Format: hardcover and paperback
Genre: detective mystery
Rating: ages 18 and up
Notes: book 5 of the Flavia de Luce series (book 6 coming out in January 2014!)
Another shocking mystery strikes again in Bishop’s Lacey, but this time inside St. Tancred’s tomb. On his 500th Anniversary it is accustomed for the tenants of Bishop’s Lacey to prepare for the opening of his tomb, but instead of gazing down at the body of the saint, Mr. Collicut, the organist is found. Dead. And who else to see the corpse before anyone else than Flavia de Luce. Faster than you can say “by Jove!” our young detective sets out once again to solve this murder and as she does so, comes across unexpected new friends (or could they be foes?)
There’s nothing more satisfying than a really good mystery with new friends, new foes, and a thrilling murder of an innocent but shady church organist with a deep, dark secret. But no mystery is too big for Flavia to solve as she slips on her thinking cap and follows the trail of blood and travelling underground tunnels to investigate an ancient tomb. Flavia proves to be ahead of her game and the Hinley Constabulary as she digs deeper for clues (literally) while uncovering more secrets of the residents of Bishop’s Lacey.
I’ve noticed that in each story, Flavia grows up to be a stronger character capable of journeying into dark, underground places on her own and visiting strangers around Bishop’s Lacey. A young girl who is mature for her age and is displeased when adults treat her like an innocent child are automatically added to her ‘shot of strychnine’ list. Flavia proves that she is an independent and intelligent young girl for her age and shouldn’t be underestimated.
But there’s trouble brewing in Buckshaw. Throughout the series Flavia’s father has struggled to pay his debts but now he grows tired, and there’s a greater chance that Buckshaw will have to be sold. The de Luce sisters are distraught especially Flavia as she understands the happy memories they once shared together are held within the cold walls of Buckshaw. Although the sisters may seem detached, Flavia learns that they share the same blood. Blood Flavia explains is what ties them all together, Daffy, Feely, and Father. “In spite of the stupid tales…my blood was now screaming out to me that all of us were one, and that nothing could ever tear us apart.
There’s blood everywhere. A trail of blood in Saint Tancred’s tomb, blood in Saint Tancred’s tears, and blood on the killer’s hands after murdering Mr. Collicut the church organist. And then there’s ‘shared blood’ which Flavia explains in her notes, “our red and white corpuscles, Father’s, Feely’s, Daffy’s, and mine, are identical in size, shape, density, and coloration.” After making this chemical analysis Flavia realizes from her experiments that regardless of the fights and tortures they put upon each other, the sisters share everything. Their blood, their worries and fears for father, and for Buckshaw their precious home filled with once-happy memories of the sisters together before they drifted apart.
I praise Alan Bradley for finding a clever way to tie a mystery with the de Luce’s family history, which means we (and Flavia) are in for a treat as startling news about the de Luce bloodline are uncovered. And speaking of news, Flavia is astonished as she finds out about one of her sister’s ‘arrangement’ that could change the future of the family. A gripping murder with ancient tombs, weeping saints, and the identity of the killer whom we thought was an innocent character at Bishop’s Lacey. The murderer is always the least person you suspect. And did I forget to mention that there’s a cliffhanger in the end? Once again I can’t wait till Alan Bradley’s next book comes out in January.
My verdict: 5 hoots out of 5.