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MOVIES AND MELODRAMA,
This review is from: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Mystery (Hardcover)
I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS is the fourth Flavia de Luce book I have read and I believe it is my favorite. Could be because it has a "movie theme" and I have been star-struck since I was Flavia's age (11 years old), or perhaps because the books are set in the 1950's when I was spending what extra money I had on magazines like Photoplay, Silver Screen and Motion Picture. Whatever the reasons, I have become a fan of the residents of Buckshaw, the de Luce estate located on the outskirts of the village of Bishop's Lacey. As in past stories, cold, hard cash is in short supply, Buckshaw is still in dire need of repairs and Flavia's father Colonel de Luce has, against his better judgement, been forced to "rent" the estate to a motion picture company.
The cast of "usual suspects" return in this Christmas adventure - Flavia is still enthralled with the study of poisons - and in this particular segment has packed away her trusty bike Gladys and has been busy in her laboratory devising a cunning trap to ensnare Father Christmas. She and her sisters are still bickering, her father Colonel de Luce continues to withdraw to his study and immerse himself in his stamp collection rather than face the real world, Dogger is still suffering from shell shock but managing to perform his duties around the house, the housekeeper Mrs. Mullet is still preparing inedible food and Inspector Hewitt continues to be the unwilling recipient of Flavia's powers of observation in helping to solve this latest murder.
Before I go any further let me say that while Flavia is a delightful character she is filled with inconsistent qualities and contradictions in her behavior. At times immature and childish as illustrated by her unshakable belief in Santa (Father Christmas) and her on-going urges to get even with her sisters, she is nonetheless a virtual chemistry whiz and is observant beyond her years displaying an uncanny logic and an ability to find clues that the professional detectives have overlooked. In addition, throughout four books none of this cast of characters has aged and the tiny village of Bishop's Lacey has been the scene of four murders. I'd say that's a lot of crime in a short time frame for a mid-sized city let alone a small English hamlet. These, however, are two small complaints and did not in any way hamper my thorough enjoyment of this latest Alan Bradley offering.
What I recommend is that you, like I, just abandon logic as you did as a youth reading the adventures of Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys and just enjoy the antics of the irrepressible Flavia and the folks of Bishop's Lacey as murder and a raging snowstorm set the scene for another excursion into the heartwarming and whimsical adventures of Flavia de Luce, girl detective. Oh and by the way, this would also be an ideal holiday gift for the young adult reader in your family.