So far, so good.
Every Flavia de Luce mystery I have read so far has kept my interest, entertained and amused me, and provided me with hours of reading enjoyment.
Flavia is just as resilient and creative as ever. Still loving her chemical experiments, her ‘first love’ continues to be investigating murders and once again she is thrown upon the scene of a suspicious death.
Flavia returns from Canada cautiously expecting a warm welcome from her family, hoping against hope that someone has missed her. Instead she finds her father is hospitalized with pneumonia and visits, even from a daughter, are not welcome.
However consolation for Flavia comes in the person of Cynthia (three cheers for the vicar’s wife!)
“There are times when even family can be of no use: when talking to your own blood fails to have meaning.
I suppose when you stop and think about it, in the great scheme of things, that’s what vicars’ wives are for.”
Poor Flavia. She has lost her mother, does not have the comfort of close relationships with her sisters, and now her father is dangerously ill. When Cynthia sends Flavia on an errand, she finds much more than she bargained for.
Distracting herself with uncovering the mysterious death of a local woodcarver, Flavia relies on her ingenuity to assist (whether appreciated or not) Inspector Hewitt, to solve yet another case. (Whether this episode is a true murder mystery or an unfolding series of events leading to accidental death, the reader must decide for themselves).
In between her trips on Gladys, her ever-reliable bicycle that doesn’t fail her (even in snow), the reader finds Flavia maturing in ways that are often surprising. Flavia once again proves herself to be quick-thinking, able to resourcefully interact with characters as diverse and ranging from Boy Scouts to curious curtain-twitching neighbors to nosy telephone operators.
Pushing herself to uncover the facts behind the death of a much loved poet and author, Flavia becomes ill herself. Sadly, the family leaves for the hospital without her, but Mrs. Mullet, (the resident cook/housekeeper), shows the concern for Flavia’s physical needs that is missing from her own family. Her kind gesture to supply Flavia with breakfast-in-bed is both touching and admirable.
We cannot but sympathise that Flavia at twelve years old seems to have no point of refuge to run to except her chemistry lab.
“… my mind became a tiny boat tossed on a vast, dark sea. With no compass to guide me – no stars, no oars, no sail, not even a bailing bucket – I was at the mercy of God… or Fate… or Chance… or Mrs. McCoo in the Sky, or whoever it was in cosmic charge of things.
At such times I could only retreat for safety into the Castle of Chemistry: the only hiding place in the universe where relationships would never – could never – change.”
I read “Thrice the Brinded Cat…” quickly, needing a distraction from unexpected, abrupt circumstances that can burst upon life on occasion. (I could really sympathise and identify with Flavia when I read the final chapter.) After finishing this latest Flavia mystery, I have to wonder if perhaps Flavia has not only matured but is in danger of becoming hardened through life’s circumstances. We will see what the next book in the series brings to Flavia.
“In the same way I suppose, that the perfect crime is extremely rare, so is the perfect solution. In real life, we are never able to dot every i, cross every t, or tease out every last strand of what we think of as the evidence.
Real life is messy, and it’s probably best to keep that in mind. We must learn never to expect too much.”