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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, written by Alan Bradley. Doubleday Canada, Penguin. 2016. $29.95 ages 10 and up

"Carla Sherrinford-Cameron, her hands clasped together at her waist like lobster's claws, was singing "The Lass with the Delicate Air," and I found myself wishing that I had thought to bring a firearm with me - although whether to Carla out of her misery or to do away with myself, I had not quite yet decided. With her huge eyes, her lank red hair, and pale buttermilk skin, she looked like a sea creature ... "

I cannot believe this the eighth novel about Flavia de Luce, child detective extraordinaire. She's back home in England at Buckshaw, the family estate that has been left to her by her mother. If you haven't met her, you need to know that Flavia is only 12, and her success at solving mysteries is quite astounding.

She arrives to find that her father is very ill, and has been hospitalized. She is not allowed to see him. She cannot stand the way her sisters continue to treat her, and is soon happy to be caught up in the middle of another death that happened under mysterious circumstances. Flavia finds the body of a local carver, and then spends the rest of the book's pages trying to find out why he died and how the contraption she finds him in might hold the key to determining the events that led to his death. He has a long, and complicated history.

Under the tutelage of her favorite police detective, Inspector Hewitt, she moves forward and is often steps ahead of him. As she uncovers what has happened in the past, she manages to make connections to a writer, another murder, and a sad, untimely death. We are introduced to these additional characters in a series of mishaps that lead, ultimately, to the real culprit.

Flavia never disappoints. Her first person voice keeps the reader personally connected. Her inquisitive nature, her proclivity for chemistry and her persistence in finding the truth hold her in good stead. Her character is as unique, spunky, and clever as ever. I love her, and think you will, too - if you have not met her in previous cases. Subtle humor provides most enjoyable breaks as Flavia works hard to solve yet another mystery and to deal with the bleak conditions of her home and her father's illness.

I wonder what she will be up to next? We can only hope we don't have to wait too long to find out.

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