As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7) by Alan Bradley
ISBN: 9780345539939 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345539953 (ebook)
ASIN: B00LYXN3LK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press

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.

Flavia de Luce has barely had time to grieve her mother’s death when she is rushed off to a school in Canada. Flavia feels as if she has been banished from her beloved Buckshaw and is missing all that is familiar, including her sisters Daphne and Ophelia, not to mention Dogger and her beloved bicycle Gladys. What can a poor girl do when she is left alone in a foreign land? Well if that girl is Flavia the only answer is to solve a crime and she is provided the perfect opportunity when a body falls out of the chimney in her room at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy on her first night in Toronto. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, she is warned about girls going missing when they ask too many questions.

I’ve said it before and have to say it again I thoroughly enjoy reading about Flavia’s adventures. Flavia comes across as a mixture of Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, and Monk rolled up in one neat little package. Although she hasn’t reached the age of puberty, Flavia has the uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time to discover bodies and mysteries. But now Flavia is in an unknown environment without her usual support network and, as a result, isn’t quite sure who to trust. She is somewhat leery of her headmistress, Miss Fawlthorne, and of her fellow students. The only teacher she seems to like is her chemistry professor, an acquitted murder suspect, Mrs. Bannerman. She doesn’t like or trust the trustees that chaperoned her trip from England to Canada, the Drs. Rainsmith. Is it possible for Flavia to solve the crime of the headless corpse from the chimney with minimal clues and limited access to a lab? Can she determine what has happened to the missing girls without asking too many questions and putting herself in peril?

I found As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust an engaging and fast-paced read. This installment in the Flavia series showed a more emotional young girl. Flavia cries in grief over the loss of her mother and feels a sense of isolation by her “banishment” to a school far, far away from home. The only contact she has from home are the occasional letters from Dogger and her cousin Undine. The lack of contact from her immediate family only adds to her sense of being forgotten and banished. The Flavia revealed in this book is more thoughtful and not as prone to retaliation or pranks. She’s much more analytical in her thinking and doesn’t rely upon chemistry as much as she has in the past. (Yes, she still uses chemistry but in a different manner.) There are a lot of questions raised and answered in As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, but questions still remain about the Nide, their purpose, and Flavia’s role within this group. I look forward to reading more Flavia stories in the future and can’t wait for her to return to England. If you want to know if Flavia solves the crimes and finds answers to the questions raised you’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by Alan Bradley
ISBN: 9780385344050 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345539694 (ebook)
ASIN: B00E2RYTJU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press

On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train’s arrival in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear.

Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd…

Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. 

Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself.

Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office – and making spectacular use of Harriet’s beloved Gypsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit – Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.

Harriet de Luce is finally returning to Buckshaw. The de Luce family solemnly awaits Harriet’s return via train at Buckshaw Halt station. Harriet’s return is with much pomp and circumstance, as she is accompanied with a military guard, numerous political dignitaries — including Sir Winston Churchill. The former Prime Minister takes a moment to commiserate with Haviland de Luce, Flavia’s father, and turns to Flavia and asks if she has acquired a taste for pheasant sandwiches. What should be a solemn event is marred by tragedy when a man is pushed under the train as the train leaves the station. To add to the intrigue, this strange man has given Flavia a message, a strange, possibly coded message before his demise. What does the question from Sir Winston Churchill mean? Who was the strange man and what does his message mean? Why is Harriet’s death such a blow to the British government? Needless to say these and other questions lead the indomitably curious Flavia on a search for answers.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is the sixth installment in the Flavia de Luce series. This book finally answers the question of where Harriet de Luce has been all these years. She was missing and presumed dead, but her death has remained an unanswered question until now. Flavia’s father, Colonel Haviland de Luce is clearly heartbroken at the return of his beloved’s body. As family, friends and colleagues gather at Buckshaw to mourn Harriet’s loss, more questions than answers arise in Flavia’s mind. Her quest for answers leads to answers that are more shocking than the answers and puts Flavia on a path of service to her country.

Just as with the previous five books in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. This book was much more solemn in tone due to the return of Harriet to Buckshaw for burial and the grief of the de Luce family. The reader is given even greater insight into Haviland de Luce’s grief and epic sense of loss. We see Flavia attempting to assuage his grief by finding answers to questions she feels important. In her own way, Flavia is trying to sort her way through the grieving process the only way she knows how, by seeking answers to questions and unraveling puzzles. Flavia is a little more reserved in this book and shows an increasing maturity. If you’ve read any of the previous Flavia books, you’ll delight in this installment. I can’t wait to see what the future brings for Flavia and hope that we’ll be able to watch her intrigues for many years to come.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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