As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley
|As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The seventh Flavia de Luce novel sees Flavia at school in Canada. There's none of the usual supporting cast but it's still a great read. Definitely recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: April 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Flavia de Luce has left Buckshaw, the family home where she has lived all her life and has gone to school in Canada (actually, 'was sent' is more accurate - the decision was none of Flavia's making and she felt that she'd been banished). On the trip over she was accompanied by Dr Rainsmith and his wife, who were associated with Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, the school which Flavia would be attending. In fact, they delivered her there with scant ceremony late on the night they arrived. Flavia would have settled down to sleep, but first she was attacked by another pupil and then a dead body fell down the chimney. She already felt quite at home...
I almost wept when I thought that The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches was to be the last Flavia de Luce novel. Over the last few years it's become one of my favourite crime series, so I was relieved when I heard that there were to be more books and not even too worried by the knowledge that we'd be missing much of the usual supporting cast. Sisters Daffy and Feely I could take or leave, but Dogger, the faithful retainer and Mrs Mullet, the housekeeper always added a lot to the stories. This time Flavia would be on her own, but she's nothing if not resourceful. None of her skills of deduction have left her, she's still an accomplished chemist and as impish as ever.
The stories are always great. This one is perhaps not as complex as the last book in the series, but it's none the worse for that and to some extent I found it an easier read. Alan Bradley has a real talent for creating compelling characters too and this really comes into its own in As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust, when Flavia is in the position of not having anyone whom she's sure she can trust. I must have had just about everyone but Flavia chalked in as the murderer at one point or another - and I still managed to get it wrong.
So, a great story and brilliant characters. What more can you ask for? Well, as with every book in this series, it's the sheer quality of the writing which lifts the book above the common herd. The use of language is superb. On the train journey across Canada the hours trudged by with chains on their ankles. At the school the steam radiators sounded for all the world like armored knights having a practice joust with playful young dragons, who burgled and hissed more to show off than anything else. You can hear it, can't you?
You could read the book as a standalone, but you'll miss a lot of the references. Best to start at the beginning and get the pleasure of all the books.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For similarly great characters, excellent plots and superlative writing we can recommend Frances Brody's Kate Shackleton mysteries.
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