Monday, March 4, 2013

Fiction | The Case of Poor Mr. Collicut

I flipped on the switch marked "Shuddering Sobs," but nothing came.

Damnation! I used to be a dab hand at water on demand. What on earth was happening to me? Was I becoming hardened? Was this what being twelve was going to be like?

Speaking from Among the Bones is Alan Bradley's fifth installment in the Flavia de Luce mystery series. If you haven't picked up one in this series yet, I strongly urge you to do so. Flavia returns, still the ever-precocious 11-year-old chemistry-loving super sleuth. (Read more about books 1, 2, 3, and 4.)

In this installment, Bishop's Lacey is preparing to open the tomb for the 500th anniversary of the death of its patron saint, St. Tancred. When Flavia gets a sneak peek inside the tomb, though, she finds something a bit disturbing. It appears St. Tancred's tomb has already been opened—and inside is the body of the church's missing organist, Mr. Collicut. Of course, Flavia hops right on the case, following in own investigation that leads to hidden tunnels and rooms underneath the church graveyard. Could this be the same path used by poor Mr. Collicut's murderers?

On top of all this murder mayhem, Flavia is also dealing with another sizable mystery: what is to become of Buckshaw? It was a dark day when the For Sale sign went up on the lawn, and suddenly that sign has disappeared. Is this the end of Flavia's world as she knows it?

In contrast to some of the earlier Flavia de Luce mysteries, Speaking from Among the Bones hops right into the story with very little down time before the mystery begins. Character development progresses slowly through the series, but there is some there. This one seems to me to feature Flavia more independently than previous ones, and interactions with her sisters and father seem to take a back seat to Flavia's experiences out on her own. She continues to mature (evidenced by her humorous ponderings and discoveries as quoted above), seemingly ever-so-slowly until you realize that the past five mysteries have all taken place in the span of about a year and a half. (Gee, that is a lot of murder happening in one small town!)

These books are, for the most part, episodic and can be read non-sequentially. There are bits and pieces, though, that refer to earlier storylines (many of which, I must admit, I actually don't remember and thus don't completely understand the significance of the reference), and you may be more fulfilled reading them in order. If you've been following this series, you'll especially be delighted by a surprise twist at the very very end! Again, I will be looking forward to the next.


Aarti said...

I'm glad this series continues so well! I do think that it's a series I should spread out over time as I think Flavia could get a bit grating.

Kari said...

Yes, I think it's better to spread them out over time. I really love these books, but they're sort of like TV episodes where, watching week to week would be fine, but if you binged and watched a whole season in one sitting, all episodes would start to seem just alike and thus lose their charm.

Sir John said...

Interesting post...i enjoyed reading your blog.

Essay Writing