Wednesday, February 13, 2019

AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST, the seventh Flavia de Luce mystery.

(Flavia de Luce #7)
Delacorte Press
$26.00 hardcover, available now

Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.

My Review: We all know by now what the deal is when we pick up a Bradley mystery: We're suspending disbelief in the premise of a school-girl who also happens to be a gifted forensic chemist, possessed of a fully stocked laboratory, and the youngest member of an astonishingly oblivious and neglectful family who leave the child alone to get on with her solving of the many murders that occur in her remote village home.

Yeah, right. Not even in postwar England (1950-ish) would a kid have that kind of freedom. But without that, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. Where's the fun in that? Go with it. Surf on Bradley's wave and the reward is a mother of all waves keeping you sharp and alert lest you miss the wave's chicane.

Flavia's Aunt Felicity is somehow less, rather than more, imposing in this entry into the series. I wasn't at all sold on the Nide...its existence struck me as a bit childish...but I am fully willing to put my concerns aside. Reading these books isn't about being transported to a world one reasonably expects to exist, after all. The premise of Harriet coming home to be buried made me cringe a bit, it seemed so grisly...that said, I wasn't angered by the event once the details were known. I could see why we had to go here.

It was fun, and while I'm no convert to the idea of more books set in Toronto (a flimsy drop-curtain illusion of Toronto as the setting was), I understand why we had to be there for this story to unwind. The mystery itself, not for the first time, failed to generate much suspense in me. I suppose this is a far-reaching effect of following a long-term series, since I see it setting in on almost all my fellow series fans. The difference for me, in this series' case, is that I am still charmed by the idea of a kid solving adult crimes, and satisfied by Bradley's humor and whimsy. Seven books and counting....

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