Cozy Crime

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows – Alan Bradley

Posted in Cozy Crime on November 16th, 2011 by admin – 3 Comments

I am Half Sick of Shadows - Flavia De Luce Mystery

This is the fourth in the Flavia de Luce series, another wonderfully endearing “cozy mystery” set “somewhere” in England in the 1950s.  I absolutely love this series, they’re the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life with one of the most captivating heroines in the shape of 11 year old Flavia.

It’s getting close to Christmas and the de Luce family finances are still in a perilous state so the Colonel reluctantly agrees to rent out Buckshaw to a film crew.  The glamorous film star Phyllis Wyvern has agreed to perform a scene from Shakespeare in order to raise funds for the church roof, so the local villagers swarm to Buckshaw to see the leading lady in action.  Blizzards conspire to keep the audience captive overnight but tis not the season to be jolly as a body is discovered and, with so many suspects, Inspector Hewitt needs all the help he can get to find the killer.  Of course, Flavia, our amateur sleuth, is on hand to ferret out the culprit but she is already occupied with proving Santa’s existence and concocting some splendiferous fireworks.

If you are already a fan of Flavia, you will love this seasonal story as you are immediately transported into the snowbound world of Buckshaw and Bishop’s Lacey.  Flavia is as irrepressible as ever but she still has that cloud of sadness, the loss of her mother and her sisters’ indifference/cruelty weigh heavily on her.  Some much needed distraction comes with the arrival of the film crew and the glamour of the silver screen.  There are a lot of new characters in this relatively  short book but they really come to life for the reader, even the one who dies quite soon!

Overall, a pleasure to read, an ideal Christmas treat which leaves me longing for the next instalment in Flavia’s adventures, Seeds of Antiquity, hopefully out in 2012.

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Review – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Posted in Cozy Crime on September 1st, 2010 by admin – 6 Comments

I seem to have hit on a recurrent reading theme of late – that of the England of a bygone era, The Legacy, Mr Rosenblum’s List and now Alan Bradley’s “cozy” crime mystery set in the 1950s.  It would be an understatement to say that the characters are shy and retiring – quite the opposite!  Our narrator is the almost eleven year old, Flavia de Luce, who lives at Buckshaw (crumbling country pile) with her widowed father (morose and reclusive) and her two older sisters Daphne (Daffy) and Ophelia (Feely). 

There appears to be little or no parental discipline and the children are left to their own devices, in Flavia’s case, to hone her investigative skills in a fully equipped Victorian chemical laboratory which is handily located in their house.  Such an avid interest in chemistry proves very useful when Flavia discovers a body in the cucumber patch and her father is accused of murder.  Can Flavia save the day?  Will her father’s interest in philately be his downfall?

Okay, I know it sounds a bit like Enid Blyton on acid but it’s slightly more complicated than that.  At the risk of overusing an adjective, this is another “charming” tale.  If you’re not fond of child narrators, avoid like the plague! Flavia is one of those marmite literary characters, you’ll either love her or loathe her – she’s extremely precocious, ridiculously bright and bursting with enthusiasm…lashing of ginger beer anyone?   I have been beguiled by her to the extent that I’m now engrossed in the next instalment of her adventures – “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag” (marvellous titles!).  May we have many more “ripping yarns” from the pen of Mr Bradley.

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