Speaking From Among the Bones – Alan Bradley
Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.
Once again, the mystery – Mr. Collicutt’s gas-masked corpse – appears quite quickly, but this time, it felt like the story dragged on for some time afterward. I finished it on Tuesday and I’ve honestly forgotten most of it already. It wasn’t bad, it was, in fact, pretty average, but I don’t think this will be one of my favourite Flavia books.
The mystery’s resolution is, as always, well done – Flavia uses her wits to work it out well before anyone else does, but she doesn’t just pull evidence out of thin air. She’s just much more observant than your average eleven year old.
This plot does start to tie up some loose ends, though, especially those concerning Feely (Flavia’s sister Ophelia) and her inevitable marriage. Here I’ll spoil things a little bit by saying that my favoured beau did not win her hand (I’m way more upset about that than I should be, especially since I wasn’t expecting it to work out in the first place!).
Finally, this book gets many bonus points for the ending, though. I obviously won’t spoil it for you, but the very last sentence actually caused me to gasp and exclaim. I’ve already started reading the next book, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, but I can imagine how agonizing the wait would have been with an ending like that.
Part of this book felt like filler, but since spending any amount of time with Flavia is always a delight, it wasn’t a chore to read. It just wasn’t very memorable.