By Alan Bradley
Series: Flavia de Luce #1
Published by Delacorte Press
on April 24, 2009
Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
I really enjoyed this book. It was funny, full of great characters, well-paced, and focuses on a murder mystery in 1950s England. All the elements of a fun read!
Flavia, the narrator, is a funny, intelligent 11 year old chemistry wiz who seems to spend most of her time battling her two older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. However, when a dead body turns up in the cucumber patch at Buckshaw, she has to set her main pastime aside and get to the bottom of things – especially once her father confesses to murder.
The story moved quickly and although I had some ideas about who the murderer was, I didn’t quite solve it before the end of the book. However, waiting for Flavia to solve the mystery is part of the book’s appeal, and I tried to just let the plot unfold before me without attempting to figure it all out myself.
The book was quite funny, which surprised me at first. It took about two chapters for me to get used to the style and dark humour but then I was hooked. As an 11 year old, Flavia sees things differently than an adult narrator would have, and that too is part of the book’s charm.
I had fun reading this book. The plot moved quickly, and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. Flavia’s investigation brings her into contact with some interesting characters! Ialso love reading books set in a different time period, and as this was set in 1950s England, in a small village, that was an added bonus.
I strongly recommend this book. I will definitely be reading the next book in the Flavia de Luce series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag.