The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
|The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's the concluding volume in this brilliant series - I think I might cry. Read the whole series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: March 2014|
Flavia de Luce is nearly twelve but she's grown up without the presence of her mother who is presumed to have died in a mountaineering accident in Tibet when Flavia was just a baby. The loss has left its mark on the family: Colonel de Luce is a broken man and as it was Harriet who owned the family home - Buckshaw - they've lived in a financial limbo. But now Harriet's body has been found and we join the family as it's brought back to the village on a train commissioned by the government. The great and the good are there - including Winston Churchill - but there's also a mysterious death. And the man who has died whispered a warning to Flavia just before he went under the wheels of the train.
The Flavia de Luce series has been one of the bright stars of crime fiction in recent years - and it's all the more surprising because it really shouldn't work at all. Flavia is just eleven (well, in fairness, she's nearly twelve, which, of course, makes all the difference) but she is a chemist with the sort of knowledge which you'd associate with a talented undergraduate. She's worldly-wise too, a sharp observer of people and a master strategist, but naive in some areas. You shouldn't be able to buy into the character, but you not only buy in - you worry about her and you root for her. When you've finished the book you'll wonder how she's getting on.
This book is a slight departure from the earlier books in the series in that they were local difficulties as they might have been described, but this time Flavia knows that her mother is dead (but it doesn't stop an attempt at resurrection) and the murder is almost eclipsed by the mystery of what has been going on in her own family. There's a steady drip feed of information which sheds light on the backgrounds of Colonel de Luce, Harriet, Aunt Felicity and Dogger the manservant. I wasn't aware of there being loose ends in earlier books but suddenly they were found and elegantly tied off.
Alan Bradley is pitch perfect on the nineteen fifties (I know - I was there...) and it's not just the visible points, but the attitudes and values. The writing is excellent, a joy to read. I know this is the concluding volume in the series - but I do hope that we're going to hear more from Alan Bradley. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Each of the books would read perfectly well as stand-alones, but why not treat yourself and start at the beginning. For another superb crime series set in the first part of the twentieth century we can recommend Frances Brody's Kate Shackleton Mysteries.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley at Amazon.com.
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley is in the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2014.
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