I Am Half Sick of Shadows
by Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley’s fourth mystery finds 12-year-old, motherless, nosy chemistry genius Flavia de Luce, stuck at home during the Christmas season in bleak post war England. Her older sisters Feely and Daffy continue to torment her and she spends her time sequestered in her chemistry lab concocting a sticky trap for Father Christmas among the chimney pots of Buckshaw, the decaying family manor.
To bring in badly needed income, Flavia’s father contracts with a film company to make a movie at Buckshaw. The whole village of Bishop’s Lacey is atwitter at the arrival of glamorous Phyllis Wyvern and her co–star Desmond Duncan. They agree to give a Christmas Eve performance of scenes from Romeo and Juliet to benefit the roof fund of the local church. On the night of the performance, village guests and the entire film crew end up snowed in at Buckshaw.
While all are peacefully slumbering among the many nooks and crannies of the big old house, Flavia discovers Phyllis Wyvern dead in her room, oddly dressed with a length of film tied gaily around her neck. Of course precocious Flavia can’t follow orders to stay away from the murder scene and proceeds with her own investigation. Danger ensues.
Who killed the movie star is not as important as 12 year old Flavia’s maturing relationship with her sisters and a growing realization that she is very much like the mother she never knew. A bit of accidental luck brings hope that things will be looking up for the De Luce’s of Buckshaw in the New Year and that Flavia has many more mysteries to solve in the future.