As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley



I would not spill too many beans were I to say that in volume 007, Flaiva is older (12), wiser (IQ = 134) and exiled to the frozen tundra (Toronto.) Sad and virtually alone, Flavia, nevertheless, quickly returns to her “A-game” as murder goes “thump” in the night. The autodidact expat reaches out to the reader for solace as she bobs about in a sea of chilled intrigue and indifference. Bereft of home laboratory advantage, she artfully finagles local facilities and, in fact, does more with less.

“Chimney Sweepers” seemed to break slowly from the blocks, but once it hit its stride it managed to raise the pulse and reach a delightful conclusion. As the final pages turn, the author drops clues that romance and intrigue await in volume 008.

One of the most rewarding aspects of volumes 001-006 was the author’s extraordinary display of creative word-play. His unique figures of speech blessed every page if not paragraph. He made “getting there, more than half the fun.” Not so much in volume 007. The polish lacked the expected luster. I trust that the remaining volumes in the Flavia de Luce series will return to the meticulous craftsmanship of the initial half-dozen.


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