Friday, December 16, 2011

Flavia stars once more in Bradley's enertaining I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

Book 127:  I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

Setting out to prove that Saint Nick exists, Flavia de Luce, Alan Bradley's delightfully implausible 11-year-old sleuth, captures a murderer instead.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is the fourth entry in Bradley's mystery series featuring Flavia, her father and sisters and the inhabitants of the village of Bishop's Lacey. It's as charming as the previous novels, which is to say very charming; very charming, indeed.

Christmas has come to Buckshaw, the de Luce estate, and with it a London film crew. Before filming can commence, a key member of the cast is murdered. Once again, Flavia must circumvent the local constabulary and her own distraction due to the imminent arrival of Saint Nick, to bring the murderer to justice.

With her flair for investigation, her love of poisons and her general knowledge of chemistry, as well as her skill as making her two older sisters' lives miserable, Flavia has quickly earned a place of prominence in English literature and in the hearts of Bradley's readers.

If you have yet to read a Flavia de Luce novel, any of the books will do. They are uniformly wonderful.

Book 126: Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson

Here's something original I've yet to say about a Kate Atkinson novel -- this book is awful.

It's Atkinson's third book and, as such, a dividing line between her first two books --  Behind the Scenes at the Museum, her splendid debut novel, and Human Croquet, which was good but not great -- and her recent novels featuring private investigator Jackson Brodie.

Those recent novels are truly fine books, well written and entertaining; everything, I'm afraid, that Emotionally Weird is not. I could say more, but there doesn't seem to be any reason for that. Pick up her first book, definitely pick up the Jackson Brodie novels, but give Emotionally Weird a wide, wide pass.

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