Anyone who enjoys a good mystery, and hasn’t read one of Alan Bradley’s, Flavia de Luce series, needs to stop whatever they are doing this very minute and find a copy. You are in for a real treat. Speaking from Among the Bones is the fifth book in the series, and although you don’t necessarily have to read them in order, from a character development standpoint, it might be advisable to do so. However, each book stands alone, and provides enough background to get you grounded into the life of Flavia de Luce rather quickly.
Flavia is best described as a pre-teen version of Miss Marples or Nancy Drew. A genius when it comes to chemistry, she uses her scientific prowess to help her in solving crimes in her small hometown of Bishop’s Lacey, England in the 1950s. You will quickly become enraptured with Flavia, displaying intellect and self-confidence in one scene, followed by her pixie charm as she antagonizes her older sisters in the next. She is at once, an annoying little sister as well as a master crime solver. Whereas many characters can get stale after the first couple of books, Alan Bradley has not disappointed us with his latest book. Flavia is spunky, clever, bold, and more so than in the previous books, vulnerable. Motherless, tormented by her older sisters, and ignored by her Father, Flavia turns to science and crime-solving to fill the void.
Speaking from Among the Bones involves a murder of the local church organist and the disinterment of the town’s patron saint, and therefore includes graveyards, hidden passages, and crypts as the backdrop. Flavia, the precocious sleuth, wastes no time in starting her investigation. Taking advantage of an amazing private household laboratory, Flavia uses Bunsen burners to both analyze blood types as well as hard-boil eggs for lunch. This adventure in particular, takes her places she does not expect to go. Places that help her understand her family’s history, her role in the de Luce family, and more importantly, it brings her closer to the memory of her mother. We see a softer side to the de Luce family — subtle signs of tenderness and love within the family that was missing in the previous books. More character-driven than its predecessors, the case itself lacked some of the polish and hold of the other mysteries. As a result, I often found myself muddled and having to backtrack to pull the pieces together. However, I am forgiving of this minor criticism because I enjoyed the deeper relationship with the de Luce family overall.
The ending is a true cliff-hanger. One that has you begging Alan Bradley to finish the sixth book — or barring that, questioning the viability of traveling to Mr. Bradley’s home to ask him directly to fill in the missing pieces.
Mr. Bradley, I implore you – please hurry and write #6! Or if you want to avoid me arriving on your doorstep some random sunny afternoon, just send me a private email and let me know what happens next. I promise to keep it under wraps. Thanks for your consideration. Sincerely, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flavia De Luce Series:
#1 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
#2 The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
#3 A Red Herring Without Mustard
#4 I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
#5 Speaking From Among the Bones