The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

How I love Flavia de Luce. I can see how she might be a difficult child, were she flesh and blood, but in Bradley’s novels she is a delight.

Ironically, perhaps, I read this while I was subbing in a 7th grade science class. At “almost twelve,” Flavia might be in the 7th grade (were she American), and, of course, she is obsessed with science. I looked in vain for a Flavia among all the students I saw that day. Needless to say, she wasn’t present.

The previous book, Speaking from Among the Bone, ended with a real cliff-hanger – Flavia’s mother had been found. Unfortunately, as we find out in the opening of this book, she was found dead. How is the family going to deal with this?

As Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station for the arrival of her mother’s casket, she 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 and what did his words? To find answers, Flavia immediately swings into action. Following a trail of clues begun by the discovery of a reel of film stashed in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan.

There were several points not clearly explained at the end of the book. I don’t want to spoil anything for readers, but I wasn’t sure how the police knew who the murderer was or how the discovery of Harriet’s will saves the house from being sold. If someone could clarify those issues for me, I would appreciate it.

At any rate, Flavia is off to a new phase of her life. What challenge will the next book pose for our indomitable Flavia? I can’t wait!

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