My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t know why so many of the reviews/recommendations I’ve read for this book compare the hero, Flavia de Luce, to Lisbeth Sanders. I guess it’s because they’re both not your typical female mystery protagonist. The comparison doesn’t seem fair — I know which one I’d like my sons to marry (seriously, if she has a granddaughter…). On the other hand, I know which one I’d like walking home with my daughter after dark, too.
Anyway, I need to get back on task, this, by gum, was a fun read with an utterly charming hero that deserves all the accolades and awards it’s getting.
Our 11-year-old hero (no, this is not a kid’s book [not that there’s anything inappropriate for anyone who’s made it through Rowling here]) is a budding, self-taught, chemist with a curious mind and a stubborn streak a mile wide. Her family life is a mess — but in a charming, amusing, English countryside way — but our plucky gal has managed to get through it pretty much intact and for the better.
So when she discovers a body on her lawn, yet the police shoo her away from the crime scene and dismiss her, she starts her own investigation. She’s helped early on by a fact or two the police didn’t obtain from her, and some that she kept to herself out of spite. Her father’s arrest for the murder just adds fuel to her fire and becomes determined not only to solve the case before the police but to make them eat a good-sized helping of crow.
Probably not much of a spoiler to say that’s exactly what she does, because the book’s not about that foregone conclusion, but in watching Flavia do that while making less than flattering observations about her older sisters.