Bestseller Bradley’s lively eighth Flavia de Luce novel (after 2015’s As Chimney Sweeps Come to Dust) finds the preadolescent chemist and detective back at Buckshaw, her crumbling family estate in England, after being dishonorably discharged from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada. Her beloved father’s sickness taints homecoming, leaving moody Flavia to ward off a flock of pesky sisters. Welcome distraction comes when Flavia stumbles on the body of a local wood-carver strapped upside-down to a wooden contraption, flanked by a stack of children’s books by famed nonsense-versifier Oliver Inchbald. Flavia, who’s delighted to investigate under the eye of her old friend Inspector Hewitt, uncovers a backstory to the murder involving a man devoured by seagulls and a madcap Auntie Loo who dies scuba diving. Only the somewhat arbitrary final reveal disappoints. Child detectives can irritate, but Flavia’s a winner, a mix of sparky irreverence and wrathful propriety who evades the preciousness endemic to the species. Agent: Denise Bukowski, Bukowski Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2016 Release date: 09/20/2016 Genre: Fiction
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