“I was the eighth dwarf. Sneaky.”
Author: Alan Bradley
Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Young Adult
Series: Flavia de Luce, #5
Sequel to: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
Followed by: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.
Now from yon black and fun’ral yew,
That bathes the charnel-house with dew,
Methinks I hear a voice begin;
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din;
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O’er the long lake and midnight ground)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
— THOMAS PARNELL —
A Night-Piece on Death
If you’ve ever wondered where Mr. Bradley takes his marvelous book titles… poetry.
When I started reading this I made a huge mistake.
You might think me stupid, an (auto-)spoilsport, but sometimes I feel compelled to read just the last sentence of a book.
That’s what I did here… and I really regret it.
Yeah, it went just like that.
Because sometimes just the one sentence has the power to distroy you.
Now, this particular last sentence does not ruin the reading pleasure of this mystery, but it is something big BIG BIG – humongous!
“Dangerous killers on the loose!” The words which every amateur sleuth lives in eternal hope of hearing. Ever since I first heard them spoken on the wireless by Philip Odell in “The Case of the Missing Marbles,” I had longed for someone to say them to me. And now they had. “Dangerous killers on the loose!” I wanted to shake the Inspector’s hand.
“Yes,” I said. “I know. I’ll be careful.”
“It’s not just a matter of being careful. It’s a matter of life and death.”
“A matter of life and death!” That other great phrase! Perhaps even greater than “dangerous killers on the loose.”
Let me tell you straight forward: IT WAS EVERYTHING YOU CAN EXPECT FROM A Flavia De Luce Mystery AND SOOOOO SOOOO SOOOO MUCH MORE!
If you are not familiar with the de Luce family’s tragedy, you might not know that the mystery Flavia wants (maybe subconsciously) to solve the most is exactly this said tragedy.
When Flavia was just a baby, barely one year old, her mother – Harriet – disappeared, presumed to be dead. Now, Flavia might be a genius, an amateur sleuth, but what really is driving her towards murders and investigations, is probably caused by the inability to solve the biggest mystery of her life.
In all the previous installments of this fantastic cozy mystery series, the mystery of Harriet de Luce has been mentioned over and over again – hinted at – even if only in a veiled manner. It might not be central even in this 5th one, but we feel its pressure nonetheless, since Flavia – while investigating on her own the murder of yet another inhabitant of Bishop’s Lacey and the mystery of the lost religious relict (Lucifer’s Heart) belonging to Saint Tancred – discovers more and more about her mother.
To me, Speaking from Among the Bones marks a turning point in an already amazing series.
The story is faster paced, the writing even more hilarious as it already was, the mystery even more intriguing, Flavia more genius than ever.
I really wish I had more thumbs to point up.