Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Once again, in As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, Alan Bradley has created a mystery titled with a nod to fine literature (taken from Shakespeare) and featuring the inimitable Flavia de Luce. Flavia is a super-sleuth extraordinaire! I love her character and her mysteries are always delightful. That said, this was still my least favorite of the Flavia series. It meandered a bit too much and was full of secret societies and code words, but less substance. Plus, I just missed the town of Bishop's Lacey and her jaunts on her beloved bike, Gladys.

For this episode, Flavia has crossed the ocean and taken up residence in a boarding school in Canada. Despite not enjoying this book as much as I have the others (perhaps it is simply due to the fact that she is away from her beloved English country estate, Buckshaw), it was still an enjoyable read. Flavia is sent to her mother's school, Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, with the hopes of studying with a chemistry teacher once accused of murder (Flavia's favorite subjects ... chemistry and murder). Within the hours of the first night, a body turns up, wrapped in a Union Jack and stuffed up the chimney of Flavia's room. She is quickly sucked into a maelstrom of curious characters and urged to "trust no one." Are the other boarding students members of the Nide, mentioned in the previous book? Why are students vanishing? Will Flavia be able to deduce the identity of the remains? Why does the skull not match the body?

Not surprisingly, Flavia is homesick (even for her horrid sisters who treat her abominably). I was a bit surprised that the only person to write to her was her beloved butler, Dogger (with a small note from the pesky Undine). Moreover, I could have done without the excess vomiting which takes place throughout the novel. Still, there are several nods to Dickens (always love a Dickens reference) and Shakespeare. I was happy to see that Flavia will return to her normal turf for the next book. Hopefully, the she will resume her feisty activities and the next mystery will be more appealing.

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