Absolutely spiffing! 4.5/5.
The blurb: It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce – an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving – is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.
I picked up this audiobook from the library because it was the only title in the mp3 range which appealed to me. I didn’t have a clue that it’s number 4 in a series, and I’m very happy to report it made very little difference to my enjoyment of the story.
I LOVED this. It took a while to get used to Flavia’s incredibly idiosyncratic voice and turn of phrase, but once I did, it was the best thing about the book. It reminded me of how the Famous Five spoke to each other, but smarter! If I’d started the series at book 1, I’m sure I would have already been at home with her voice and not needed this “adjustment time”. That said, this book worked as a stand-alone, I fell in love with Flavia and by the end was incredibly sorry it was all over.
The mystery element of the story was good, if nothing new (all the suspects trapped in a big house because of unexpected heavy snow… we’ve never seen that before!). The setting was excellent and the set up interesting. The film crew and actors brought some old Hollywood glamour to the story. But the star of the show is Flavia, her love of chemistry and her rather “inventive” experiments. These include an attempt to prove the existence of Father Christmas by covering the chimney stacks in bird lime in the hope of trapping him there! Brilliant! 🙂
If you like a good mystery and are already looking for Christmassy reads, this book would be ideal.
Finally, Sophie Aldred’s narration was absolutely spot on. She did all the different voices brilliantly and captured Flavia’s character so well in the first-person narration that I’ll now be hearing her voice in my head when I read the rest of the series.
Overall: I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the books in this series. And this time I’ll start from the beginning!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul