The Grave's a Fine and Private Place is the ninth entry in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series - a series that I absolutely adore!
1952 England. Tragedy struck in the last book and Flavia and her sisters are still coming terms with the new direction their lives have taken. When faithful family retainer Dogger suggests a small getaway trip to help, they (unusally) all agree to go. The four are drifting down the river near Volesthorpe, with Flavia dangling her hand in the water when....she snags something.
"My fingers were inserted firmly in the corpse's open mouth, locked behind it's upper teeth."
Voesthorpe also just happens to have been the scene of a triple murder two years ago. And suddenly things don't look quite so bleak for our twelve year old detective.
Bradley's mysteries are always well planned and executed, but it is the irrepressible Flavia who is the main draw for me. Her curiosity, her quick cleverness, her inner dialogue, the way she views herself and the world around her. And her desire to solve the crimes before the local constabulary does have me reliving my desire to be Nancy Drew. Her skill with poisons is always helpful as well. ;0)
"I cannot pretend that it was unpleasant to be questioned by the police. I had in the past become quite accustomed to occasion quiet chats with Inspector Hewitt: chats during which, as often as not, I was able to set the inspector straight on some of the finer points of chemistry and even, on one or two occasions, certain other matters as well."
"To me, an unexamined corpse was a tale untold: a knotted ball of a tale that was simply crying out to be unraveled until the last strand had been picked free. The fact that it was also a study in progressively putrid chemistry simply made it all that much more lively and interesting."
I've always been fond of the enigmatic Dogger. Bradley gives him a larger role in this latest and we learn a bit more about him and his background. Flavia's relationships with her sisters are also growing and changing, in a direction Flavia couldn't have predicted. They too play a larger role in this ninth entry.
With these changes comes a new avenue for Flavia - one I think is going to open up all sorts of new possibilities for our intrepid sleuth.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...."Flavia is one of the most endearing, captivating, curious, beguiling, precocious characters I've ever discovered in the pages of a book."
Absolutely, positively recommended! If you haven't read any of this series yet, I encourage you to start at the beginning. For established Flavia fans - you won't be disappointed. Read an excerpt of The Grave's a Fine and Private Place.