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Posts Tagged ‘Thrice the Branded Cat Hath Mew’d’

In case you’re new to Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce Mysteries, I’ll give you a quick review: Flavia de Luce is a 11-12 year old girl (her age changes as the story progresses) from Buckshaw, a rundown estate near Bishop’s Lacy, some distance from London. She lives with her father, Colonel de Luce, and her two sisters, Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy). Flavia must constantly beware of the meanness of her sisters, but she has her avenues of revenge. Her bedroom is situated in “the unheated wing of Buckshaw” in what used to be Uncle Tar’s chemistry lab, and Flavia knows her elements. She keeps stumbling over corpses and following through to investigate the conditions of their demise. An old soul, but a sturdy one, she steals our hearts. The stories are set in the 1950s. Full series review here.

Book 8 of the Flavia de Luce Mystery series, Thrice the Branded Cat Hath Mew’d is no less engaging than its predecessors. Flavia is back from banishment to a girls’ school in Canada, back at her beloved Buckshaw, when she is asked to run an errand for a friend. She arrives at the given address, only to discovery a body in a distinctly peculiar position. In true Flavia fashion, she does not scream or run, but makes meticulous observations as to the body and its surroundings.

Author, Alan Bradley, continues the Flavia saga with wit, charm and plot lines that do not follow assumed direction. The characters satisfy our expectations with their uniqueness. Example: Mrs. Mullet, the cook at Buckshaw advises: “…no good tryin’ to see into next week when your feet is still all tangled up in yesterday. If all that nonsense worked…why don’t they use it on the stork exchange?” (page 152, paperback)

Bradley’s descriptions move past cliche: “All of which had bounced off Undine’s back like H2O off an Aylesbury duck.” (page 228) His words promote moods apropos of the action: “It is at moments…of great distress—that time becomes treacle and things go into a peculiar, oozing sort of slow motion…” (page 278)

Bradley’s writing draws me in with its distinctive style and remarkable content. And he keeps up the suspense until the final page. In this case, the final few lines. Not at all what I was expecting.

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