Sunday, May 10, 2015
As Chimney Sweeps Come to Dust, written by Alan Bradley. Doubleday Canada, Penguin. 2015. $29.95 ages 10 and up
Rainsmiths. I didn't have many
options. Since recent circumstances
had resulted in my becoming a
backslider in the fingernail-biting
department, I had nothing to count
upon for self-defense but my own
fists and feet. How I wished I had
taken the time to pump Dogger for
more details about the Kano system
of jujitsu ... "
Gosh! Can this really be Flavia de Luce's seventh murder mystery? It well and truly is. If you are a fan, you will not be surprised to see that Flavia's spirit remains as engaged and engaging as it ever has been. She is a character to reckon with, a girl with a brilliant mind, and a most independent spirit. She is a charmer, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. As she approaches her teens, she has the same inquisitive wonder about the world and manages to get herself caught up in yet another mystery ... far from home in Canada - at the boarding school where her mother was once a star pupil.
Miss Bodycote's Female Academy is a perfect venue for a young girl, whose knack for finding murder and mystery wherever she is, is once more at the forefront of this new story. On the very first night of residence she learns that three girls have disappeared from the school. Then, when the secret spiller hears the headmistress knock at Flavia's door, she hides in the chimney, dislodging a corpse that has mummified. Flavia's response is just what knowing fans would expect from her:
“If you’re anything like me, you adore rot. It is pleasant to reflect on the fact that decay and decomposition are what make the world go round”.
Perhaps the academy is not exactly as it has been advertised! She quickly becomes involved in the
goings-on, happy to be free of her chaperones for the trip over to Canada from England, Ryerson and Dorsey Rainsmith. She finds them vexing. She has a body to identify and a mystery to solve ... the very thing for the young sleuth, as we well know. She is never sure who can be trusted. We need not worry much about her abilities. She knows how to stay out of trouble.
Observant, intelligent, persistent, resourceful are traits that describe Flavia to a 't'. Sad, homesick and longing for her family are new experiences for her. There is so much that is unfamiliar to her; yet, she makes the best of it in hopes that she will soon be back in the comfort of her family home and her beloved English village. I missed all of the characters who provide support and grudging acceptance of Flavia, in much the same way that she did. I look forward, as I always do, to her next case. I wonder where she will be then.