I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
This historical crime novel set in the early 1950s sees the return of the irrepressible Flavia de Luce, who once again is at odds with her two bookish sisters, Daphne and Ophelia. Still a child, Flavia retains belief in Santa Claus until her sisters reveal he is a myth. She retreats to the laboratory near her room in the East Wing, determined to prove them wrong scientifically.
The financially constrained family looks set to lose their house, Buckshaw, unless their father comes up with a solution. He offers to rent out the Hall to a film company as the setting for their next film. The cast and crew arrive in a fall of snow “with a pantechnicon in the lead and smaller vans trundling behind like a herd of elephants”. The stars of the show and their entourages are housed in the hall. Among them is the world-famous actress Phyllis Wyvern, whose image is sweeter on- screen than off. After an impromptu Christmas Eve performance for the benefit of the villagers, and Ophelia’s three boyfriends, Phyllis is found murdered. Despite being warned not to interfere by Inspector Hewitt, Flavia applies her keen analytical, scientific mind and observational skills in deducing who the killer is whilst putting herself in great danger.
This story conveys Flavia’s daring and inquisitive nature, whilst her interactions with Aunt Felicity and Dogger, the general factotum who pops up when needed, show levels of maturity and insight that add depth to her personality and warmth to the story. Recommended.