Speaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce Novel
by Alan Bradley
Cover Artist: Ben Perini
Review by Gayle Surrette
Delacorte Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780385344036
Date: 29 January 2013 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Easter is approaching and Flavia's sister, Feeley, has taken over for St. Tancred's missing organist, Mr. Collicutt. Father doesn't want Feeley being alone on her trips to the church to practice so Flavia has been coerced into sitting in a cold church, whiling away the time in her own thoughts as Feeley practices. The high point of this practice was a chance to go inside the pipe organ -- you never know when you'll need to know what the inside of a pipe organ looks like, especially if you want to be a detective.
Flavia is hoping she can manage to be close at hand when they open the sarcophagus of St. Tancred in the church's crypt. And she's planning to make a lot of trips to the church to help her odds. That's why, when there's a problem getting the stone off the crypt, Flavia is on hand, offering to peek inside to see what the problem is. Her announcement that she's found Mr. Collicutt's body is a shock to just about everyone. Not to mention that it makes the title, Speaking From Among the Bones, very relevant to the story.
Who killed Mr. Collicutt? How did they get him into the sarcophagus when men and a crane couldn't move the stone easily? And why were the bishop's secretary and the magistrate trying to stop the opening of St. Tancred's tomb? All good questions, and Flavia is determined to find the answer -- just to help out the police detective you understand.
The entire book is from Flavia de Luce's point of view. Flavia is twelve going on forty, but with all the innocence and guilelessness of youth. She's a chemist -- really, she knows her poisons and lab tests. She's also a keen observer of those around her, although her interpretations may be a bit off at times. There's also the added stress of her father's financial troubles and the fact that the family manor may be taken away from them if he can't arrange something soon to save it.
The mystery is as interesting and multifaceted as you'd expect, with enough twists to keep a reader interested. Flavia manages to keep her cool when others would panic, but that adds to the excitement. While the crime gets solved and the police gather up those involved, the reader -- along with Flavia -- get a shock that will keep them on edge until the next installment.