A RED HERRING WITHOUT MUSTARD
Flavia de Luce is a precocious, scientifically minded 11-year-old, more akin to Sherlock Holmes than, say, Harriet the Spy, which is refreshing and welcome. But there’s a lot going on in the third installment of this series – so much that at times the plot becomes unfocused and confusing. The resolution to the mystery also seems predicated on Flavia, an otherwise highly observant sleuth, missing an obvious clue, simply because it wasn’t time in the story for her to spot it. Still, it is hard not to like this book, for its feisty, stubborn heroine and Bradley’s rendering of a 1950s quiet English village, full of eccentricities both charming and slightly sinister.
The third Flavia de Luce mystery opens with a gypsy fortune teller who is found close to death, bludgeoned in her caravan, ostensibly because someone believed her guilty of a long-ago abduction and murder of an infant. Flavia must use her comprehensive knowledge of chemistry to prove the gypsy woman innocent, find her attacker, and solve not only the cold case murder, but also the murder of a local man known as a poacher and thief. (Delacorte, Mar., 416 pp., $24.00)
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