Flavia de Luce is an almost 12 year old accomplished chemist and mystery-solving genius, but she’s not without her problems. Buckshaw, her family’s estate, is teetering on ruin and slated to be sold. Flavia’s sisters, Feely and Daffy, do not attempt to hide their disdain for their little sister, and rub in the fact that they had a chance to know Harriet, their long-lost mother, and Flavia did not. Flavia’s closest confidants are her bicycle, Gladys, and Dogger, her absent-minded father’s slightly deranged war buddy. So when news comes that Harriet has been found Flavia is understandably excited—and somewhat obsessed. To say she’s flying high would be something of an understatement.
This installment of the Flavia de Luce series finds its admirable but somewhat morbid-minded heroine investigating her own family’s secrets, and a murder or two on the side. Undine, a cousin, is an interesting addition and is clearly one of only a few characters who provide intellectual match for Flavia. This particular book sends Flavia’s narrative in a completely new direction, and I would guess much hilarity and chemistry will follow in future installments.
As in the other novels in this series, the greatest strength in this book likes in the characterization and voice of Flavia herself. Anyone who loved Anne of Green Gables’ impetuous comments or Hermione’s self-confidence and intelligence could surely enjoy these adventures, which may or may not be written with young ladies who aren’t so ladylike in mind.