Set in England in 1952, Agatha-winner Bradley’s outstanding ninth Flavia de Luce novel (after 2016’s Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d) finds 12-year-old Flavia contemplating suicide in the wake of a family tragedy. To relieve the increased tension between Flavia and her two older sisters, Dogger, the de Luce family’s long-serving and devoted servant, proposes an extended boat trip on the river. All is uneventful until the skiff nears the site where a notorious poisoner, Canon Whitbread, discarded the chalice he used in his crimes. Flavia’s hand, trailing behind the boat, comes into contact with the corpse of the canon’s son, Orlando. Unperturbed, Flavia uses her handkerchief to swab liquid from the dead man’s lips, and she and Dogger jury-rig a forensic lab to examine the sample. Though disappointed when the evidence shows Orlando was drowned instead of poisoned, Flavia persists with her amateur detecting, even as she runs afoul of the local constable. As usual, Bradley makes his improbable series conceit work and relieves the plot’s inherent darkness with clever humor. Agent: Denise Bukowski, Bukowski Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/13/2017 Release date: 01/30/2018 Genre: Fiction
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