Format: Audio (CDs from Library)
Narrated By: Jayne Entwistle
Original Publication Year: 2011
Genre(s): Mystery, Historical
Series: Flavia DeLuce # 4
Christmas comes to Buckshaw and Flavia, as usual, is determined to celebrate it with a bang (homemade fireworks) and some bird lime on the roof to catch Old St. Nick. And also as usual she ends up interfering in a police investigation and almost gets herself killed but no one bothers to chastise her for this.
Along with Christmas, a movie production, crew and cast, have taken over Buckshaw including the very famous actress Phyllis Wyvern (Sp??). There is a LOT of filler in this one and it takes almost half the book for the real action to get rolling. This is like one of those “flashback” episodes in a season of television to catch up new viewers and give the actors a week off. Almost every character and happening in the previous books is recapped. But eventually a dead body is found (by Flavia of course) when the house is particularly full because half of the village of Bishop's Lacey has been stranded at Buckshaw during a massive blizzard. There are suspects galore and much squirelly behavior to dissect which Flavia does with glee.
And immunity. This book was particularly egregious for letting Flavia get away with some things that really make me gnash my teeth. She is nearly killed at the end of the book (with no one having a clue what she is up to) and she gets not a single word of chastisement at the end. Not a single adult resolves to keep a better eye on her. It’s a problem I’ve had with the other books as well and I KNOW it’s a convention of this series so I should just get over it but I really wanted to, in particular, slap her father around a bit. There are developments toward explaining the nature of Flavia’s family but the frustration I feel at her families unconcern does cut into my enjoyment of the books.
I want to give the book two stars for the amount of filler and the loose ends untied and the fact that none of Flavia’s elders seem the least bit concerned for her. I’m giving it three though because the fact is, despite all its flaws I still enjoyed it. Flavia is a unique, sometimes annoying, but always fascinating character to spend time with and Bradley’s writing style and his ability to turn a phrase are just impossible to resist. I do also like how he is VERY slowly spooling out little pieces to Flavia’s own personal puzzle which has shaped her family into the dysfunctional unit it is.
I’ve listened rather than read almost all of the Flavia DeLuce books and I have to say Jayne Entwistle is one of those perfect castings - She IS Flavia. She sounds believably 11 and her reading, (the inflections, the emphasis) of Flavia’s lines are perfect. She really brings Flavia to life.