The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
In the sixth volume of Bradley’s mystery series featuring Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old chemistry genius in 1951 England, we learn the fate of Flavia’s mother Harriet, who, as series fans will know, disappeared on a mountainside in Tibet when Flavia was a baby. Is Harriet dead or alive? The answer comes in the first chapter, but to say any more would reveal a spoiler for the whole series, so I will say no more on that subject. When Flavia and family – her emotionally distant father and her nasty sisters Feely (Ophelia) and Daffy (Daphne) – go to the railway station, a strange man gives a cryptically worded warning to Flavia and then is pushed under a train just seconds later. Who killed him, and what did his message mean? Flavia’s life may be in danger as a consequence. Meanwhile, in her laboratory at Buckshaw, the family’s ancestral home, Flavia develops a film of her mother, made shortly before she left for Tibet, and notices a mysterious figure appear for less than a second at the window of the laboratory, which was supposedly empty when the film was made. Could this be the murdered man, or is it a pilot, a friend of Harriet’s who had come to buy her airplane?
Flavia is one of the most original series protagonists to come around in a long time. She’s brilliant, tough, and yet more vulnerable than she’d like to admit. She matures considerably as she comes to terms with the latest development in her life. This volume takes the series in a new direction, as various threads are resolved: not only Harriet’s fate, but whether or not the family will be able to keep Buckshaw, and why Flavia’s sisters hate her. I cannot wait to see what will happen to Flavia next.