Nothing is more satisfying than receiving something long anticipated. At least, that’s the way I felt when I learned that Alan Bradley had finally released his latest book in the Flavia de Luce series. I had been eagerly anticipating the next adventure of the precocious eleven year old who Bradley introduced in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. The latest, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, did not disappoint. Flavia was once again delightfully embroiled in mystery, murder and mayhem.
To categorize the series as simply a mystery, however, would be an injustice. There is really nothing comparable to what Bradley has created. He has managed to combine an English country village, impoverished aristocracy, espionage, chemistry, a battered bicycle named Gladys, quirky characters and a pint-sized heroine into something truly original and unique. He has promised ten books in the series, and while I am delighted that there are more to come, I’m dismayed that there will be only three left for me to read.
I am a mystery lover, I’ll confess, but a lover of mysteries without excessive blood, gore or violence. Not for me the books with bodies piling up in every chapter; give me the country house, “cozy” mystery, by such writers as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers or Mary Roberts Rinehart. I enjoy the puzzle of the mystery – the intellectual challenge of the plot’s twists and turns. And with a “cozy,” I can relax and enjoy the story knowing that the murderer will be caught in the end, justice will be served, and my sleuth will live to solve another mystery in the next book.
There are all kinds of mysteries. You may prefer a police procedural or a mystery of psychological suspense. There are romantic mysteries, historical mysteries, and humorous mysteries. There are mysteries that are strictly detective stories. There are mysteries that feature male leads, female leads and even cats and dogs as main characters. If you enjoy a good mystery, you don’t have to wait. The library shelves are full of books with puzzles for you to solve. Look for the green sticker that says “Mystery.”