Happy 2012! It's hard to believe that last year went so fast. The full weight of the summer months seemed to have dampened my writing gumption, so my one resolution for the new year is to have more YAttitude!
It seems only fitting to do a post on the first book I finished in 2012, I am Half-Sick of Shadows by C. Alan Bradley. Do not fear, this post will contain no spoilers. The Flavia de Luce series does not need to be read in order, though why you wouldn't want to read all of them is beyond me.
And so, without further ado, I present my review of Flavia's latest detective endeavors.
I am Half-Sick of Shadows by C. Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce series, book 4
Delacorte Press, November 1, 2011
Book Source: Public Library
It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.
-- Summary from Goodreads.com
Judging by the cover...: Another timeless cover, one that will surely win you smart points from those who see you reading it. I'm always impressed with the covers of Flavia's books. Just like Flavia, the covers seem innocent, but always hide a brilliant scientific mind underneath.
- Small Town England - I'd be lying to myself if I didn't admit that I could see myself living in a close knit enclave such as Bishop's Lacey. Everyone knows each other, for good or bad, and the town always seems to rally together when needed.
- A Secret Laboratory - A calculating mind such as Flavia's needs a well stocked lair in which to concoct her prize poisons and explosives.
- Dogger - If every child had a man such as Dogger at their disposal, then everyone would have had an extremely interesting childhood. Strong, silent, and a jack-of-all-trades, if I needed someone in my corner, it would definitely be him.
The story begins with an incredible example of just how charming Flavia de Luce, an eleven year old girl, can be. Her ever-scheming mind is relishing her latest plan, one that involves confirming or denying the legend of Father Christmas. Her idea, though complicated in execution, has a childish need behind it. It is proof that even though she's a genius in the making, she still operates the way girls her age should. She has no patience for understanding what an affair is, can't fathom why anyone would want to fall in love, and is quite reluctant to give up the notion that a mythical man climbs down the chimney and brings her the Erlenmeyer flasks she desperately wants for Christmas.
Enter murder, and Flavia's mind immediately goes to work unraveling the murderer's scheme, foiling the inspector's attempts to keep her out of it, and trying to understand why adults do what they do. Though the ending is a tad predictable, this book isn't just about the whodunnit. It's also about the fascinating thought processes of our heroine.
What I love most about this series is that even though it's marketed as adult, anyone age ten and up could read it and enjoy every minute. They're relatively short (an average of 350 pages), they're fast-paced, and the stories never feel the need to be vulgar or violent.
Start with the first, though reading any will send you scrambling for the others. Make sure that you are able to get your hands on the other three as soon as you finish!
Anything by the great Agatha Christie, the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood, the Amelia Peabody Emerson series by Elizabeth Peters, and Alexander McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series, to name a few.