As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Monday, April 20, 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
A Flavia de Luce Novel
by Alan Bradley

The newest book in the Flavia de Luce series takes place far from Buckshaw and the tiny town of Bishop’s Lacey. Flavia is off to Canada to attend Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the same boarding school her mother Harriet attended.

Though she’s loath to admit it, she’s a bit homesick and is missing some of the people who she dearly loves like the vicar’s wife, Dogger and even her sisters and father. She is still as irascible as ever, with a short fuse and a wicked sense of humor.

She once again mentions that her father was in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WWII and I couldn't help but think of the movie and book Unbroken. I can’t imagine how horrible her father’s experience must have been. No child could understand that, but it makes sense that he's more detached with his children.

More than the other Flavia books, this one lost me a bit as it tried to juggle the different cords of the plot. I felt like a few things we left unresolved. (*SPOILER* For Example: why was the body’s throat slit before it was shoved up the chimney? Why did no one recognize the missing girl, even her own sister, just because she just had a wig on? *SPOILERS OVER*)

I also felt like there were a few tangents that could have been cut to simplify things. But regardless I still loved it. I particularly enjoyed seeing Flavia interact with other clever girls her own age, who weren't her sisters! It was refreshing to get out of Bishop’s Lacey for a bit. There was also a fun nod to the Nancy Drew series.

I was a big fan of the reporter character. I thought it was hilarious that he was willing to share info with Flavia even though he didn't know her. He’d do anything to get more details! I'm glad Flavia is finally getting into her role as a spy. She's been pursuing it on her own for so long and now she can get real guidance.

BOTTOM LINE: A fun chance to see Flavia outside of her normal setting. The novel works well at moving the story forward. A must read for anyone who has read the first six books in the series.

*Jayne Entwhistle narrates the audio as she has done for the whole series and she’s just perfect. 

“Pride in a parent often takes strange forms.”

“There is a mystery in silence that can never be matched by mere words. Silence is power.”

The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse
A Flavia de Luce Story
by Alan Bradley

Flavia receives a note begging her to come at once to solve a murder. Of course she can’t resist and heads off immediately to the Anson House boy’s school. This is her very first paid case and it reads like a Sherlock Holmes short story. It's also the opposite of As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust because it’s set at a boy’s school. She flexes her mental muscles and lets her curiosity lead the way. It gives us a look at the career she could one they have as a private investigator or police detective she wants.

BOTTOM LINE: Short and sweet, but a wonderful glimpse at Flavia when she’s in pure business mode. It's just a quick novella but if you love the Flavia series it's worth reading. 

“’This is probably no place for a girl.’

‘Girl be blowed!’ I snapped. ‘I’m here as a brain, not as a female.’”

“I’ve always been amazed by the ease with which a stranger’s life can be reconstructed by simply snooping through their belongings. Art and imagination combine to tell a tale that’s more complete than even a fat printed biography could ever hope to equal.”

*This is a short story and is only available online.
**I’d like to add a quick note about the cover. The whole series is designed by Joe Montgomery and they are gorgeous! Each one is a bright pop of color with a sinister illustration, just perfect.


Chrisbookarama said...

The thing about the sister? Yes, I agree! Sometimes mysteries have weird things that make no sense except they have to be there for the plot.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Chris - Yes, I think I'm more forgiving about plot points like that with this series because I love the characters so much.