Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Am Half Sick of Shadows-Alan Bradley

I Am Half Sick of Shadows

Alan Bradley

Delacorte, Nov 1 2011, $23.00

ISBN: 9780385344012

Eleven years old Flavia de Luce can count on three things: chemistry, irritating her older sisters, and her family being broke. To bring in some needed money in time so the family can eat during Christmas, her parents rent out the rotting Buckshaw estate to a film crew.

While her sisters look forward to handsome actors, Flavia plans to prove to these ill advised siblings that Santa exists. Thus in her lab, she creates a concoction of birdlime. Meanwhile all the local residents of Bishop’s Lacey arrive at Buckshaw to watch the famous actress Phyllis Wyvern performing on Christmas Eve while a blizzard hammers the area and the Vicar begs the star to raise money for a new roof on St. Tancred. However at midnight instead of exposing Santa, she becomes embroiled with a final curtain call with a film strip necktie.

The latest Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag) is a superb locked country house mystery as the blizzard limits travel. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she finds the aging actress performing Juliet a bit strange but appreciates the fact that the woman knows who she is from the publicized Bonepenny case. Readers will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia wins bets with her sisters, works the Santa scenario, and a murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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