The Golden Tresses of the Dead: A Flavia de Luce Novel

Written by Alan Bradley
Review by Vicki Kondelik

This is the latest entry in Alan Bradley’s popular mystery series set in rural England in the 1950s, featuring twelve-year-old chemistry expert Flavia de Luce. Flavia uses her knowledge of poisons to solve crimes, and she has teamed up with Dogger, a traumatized World War II veteran and gardener on her family’s estate, Buckshaw, to form a detective agency. Flavia’s troubles began when her sister Feely (Ophelia) finds a finger in her wedding cake. When they examine it under a microscope, Flavia and Dogger find that it has been stolen from the body of a famous guitarist. Shortly afterwards, the daughter of a prominent physician requests their help in recovering papers which she says have been stolen from her father. But when Flavia and Dogger go to meet with their client, they find her dead. Soon they discover a ring of criminals who steal body parts from famous peoples’ graves and use them to make homeopathic potions. Their client’s father, it appears, was involved with them. Will Flavia and Dogger stop them before anyone else is killed? And what is the role of two missionaries, who are staying at Buckshaw, in these crimes?

Flavia is a delight, as always. She is a genius, but a vulnerable young girl at the same time. She has clearly matured throughout the series, as she shows when it turns out she actually misses Feely, in spite of all their bickering in the past. Her cousin Undine, who always turns up at inconvenient times during Flavia’s investigation, is a strong addition to the series. She reminds me of the younger Flavia in her precocity, and it appears the relationship between them is deepening, as Flavia realizes she has not appreciated her cousin in the past. I hope to see many more of Flavia’s adventures.