If you are unfamiliar with this series, you might want to read my reviews of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, the first two books in the series.
Flavia is eleven years old, living on an old estate in England in the 1950s with her father and two older sisters. She's precocious, smart, and fancies herself a chemist. This one starts out with her causing a gypsy's fortune telling tent to catch fire, and doesn't stop after that.
The mystery is intriguing, but I find myself not really caring "who done it." It's experiencing all of Flavia's brilliant deductions and crazy escapades while we get to the conclusion that provides all the fun. And Flavia and her sisters have outdone themselves again. The crazy things they come up with to torment each other are not to be missed.
There's the gypsy, a missing baby, a body hanging from Poseidon's fountain, a mysterious junk yard, an artist with a secret painting, and an old religious order called the Hobblers in A Red Herring Without Mustard. And you will never guess how that all fits together! Oh, and plenty of Flavia's explanations of chemicals and their reactions.
These aren't books that you want to hurry through to get to the solution. Flavia's often irrelevant but delightful asides are not to be missed. (And many times what at first seems unimportant ends up being a critical element!)
I find these books pure entertainment, and I've listened to Jayne Entwistle read all of them to me. She's perfect for this series and really brings Flavia and all the characters to life. It isn't necessary to read the books in order, but there are subtle references to previous cases in each book, so why not start at the beginning. I really can't say any of the series are better than the others. They are all just witty and clever and unlike anything I've ever read.
I've recommended the Flavia de Luce Novels to teens in my library and I will continue to do so!
Published by Delacorte, 2011
Audiobook obtained from the library
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