Thursday, May 1, 2014

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

When I read a Flavia de Luce book, one thing that I take note of, other than the mystery, would be her relationship with her sisters. After all, our positions are nearly reversed, I'm the oldest sister of the three girls in my family. In this book... do my eyes deceive me? Does Daffy and Feely show some form of emotion besides hate towards Flavia? Could it be that they're not completely heartless? Well, I'll have to continue until I catch up to the latest book (which was the first book I read) in order to find out. Oooh, I can do a re-reading of the latest book too!

Ah... I'm digressing again. As usual, a Flavia de Luce mystery is an extremely enjoyable mystery. Flavia is endearing, and there's the normal new cast of characters where the victim and the murderer come from.

In this mystery, Flavia's home is being rented out to a movie-production company over Christmas due to the ever-increasing strain on their finances. Of course, Flavia manages to endear herself to the famous Phyllis Wyvern, who is our victim in this book. But as usual, there's something wrong with the film company, like some dysfunctional family forced to stay together. So it's no surprise when Phyllis is murdered.

The surprise of this book is that it sets up the stage for the mystery in Book 6. I won't give away spoilers, but you should be on the lookout for hints. Well, not so much hints as conversations that will make sense in The Dead in their Vaulted Arches.

For me, the background of this book (i.e. the characters and their relationships with each other) overshadowed the mystery. It makes sense in a way, since murder is essentially a relationship that went very very wrong. But I find myself more interested in the relationship between Flavia and her sisters, Flavia and Antigone (Inspector Hewitt's wife) and basically Flavia and everybody else. She's such an endearing character.

Oh, and her side project this time is to capture Father Christmas. I actually forgot about this, because the characters took up my attention, but it's another naively ambitious project from our favourite 11 year old sleuth.

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