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The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel Paperback – December 30, 2014
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The irrepressible, nearly 12-year-old Flavia de Luce, amateur detective, faces a particularly personal crisis in this, her sixth outing. Her mother, lost in the Himalayas when Flavia was a baby, is coming home in a coffin, escorted by none other than former British prime minister Winston Churchill. If that isn’t odd enough, the great man, before leaving, approaches Flavia and asks her if she has “acquired a taste for pheasant sandwiches.” Shortly thereafter, she is approached by another man with an equally cryptic message, after which he is crushed beneath a train. Despite her curiosity, Flavia must temporarily push such strange occurrences aside to evaluate her feelings about her mother and the ongoing difficulties she is having with her odious sisters and distant father. If the somewhat tangled plot requires a bit of patience to negotiate, be assured that Flavia (who leaves “the fingerprints of her brilliant mind” on nearly everything) is as fetching as ever; her chatty musings and her combination of childish vulnerability and seemingly boundless self-confidence hasn’t changed a bit. --Stephanie Zvirin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
“Part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Flavia is a pert and macabre pragmatist.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Alan] Bradley’s award winning Flavia de Luce series . . . has enchanted readers with the outrageous sleuthing career of its precocious leading lady. . . . This latest adventure contains all the winning elements of the previous books.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce novel reaches a new level of perfection as it shows the emotional turmoil and growth of a girl who has always been older than her years and yet is still a child. The mystery is complex and very personal this time, reaching into the past Flavia never knew about. . . . These are astounding, magical books not to be missed.”—RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
“Excellent . . . Flavia retains her droll wit. . . . The solution to a murder is typically neat, and the conclusion sets up future books nicely.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“It’s hard to resist either the genre’s pre-eminent preteen sleuth or the hushed revelations about her family.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Flavia . . . is as fetching as ever; her chatty musings and her combination of childish vulnerability and seemingly boundless self-confidence haven’t changed a bit.”—Booklist
Acclaim for Alan Bradley’s beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award
“If ever there were a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce.”—USA Today
“Irresistibly appealing.”—The New York Times Book Review, on A Red Herring Without Mustard
“Original, charming, devilishly creative.”—Bookreporter, on I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
“Delightful and entertaining.”—San Jose Mercury News, on Speaking from Among the Bones
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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Ten years ago, when Flavia was a young child, while her father was in a Japanese prison camp, her mother Harriet disappeared in Tibet. Now, in 1951, the estate, which was Harriet's, is crumbling and up for sale. The future looks bleak. At the end of "Speaking from Among the Bones", the family receives the news that Harriet has been found.
The book opens at the train station, where the family awaits her arrival. The train pulls into the station. British dignitaries, including Churchill himself, step off, forming a line. And finally Harriet arrives.
Before any of this can even be processed, Flavia is approached by a stranger who claims to be a friend of the family. He gives her a message: "Tell your father that the Gamekeeper is in jeopardy... Tell him that is Nide is under--." Flavia is yanked away by her sister. Seconds later the bearer of the message is pushed beneath the wheel of the train, silenced forever.
As the family takes the steps to come to terms with their new situation, the story unfolds, answering scores of questions from the earlier books.
Why did Harriet leave her young daughters all those years ago?
Is Aunt Felicity more than a crabby old relative?
What happened to Father during the war?
What is the bond between Father and Dogger?
What was Father's strategy in the raising of Flavia?
What are her sisters' real feelings about Flavia, and why do they feel this way?
What happened to Harriet 10 years ago in Tibet?
What is the bond that Dogger and Father share?
Who was Dogger before the war?
What were different villagers' relationships with Harriet?
Can the dead be brought back to life?
Can old mysteries be solved by a 12 year old girl?
If, like me, you are a huge Flavia fan, you will not be able to put this book down. If you haven't read the previous books, stop, go back, and start at the beginning.
You'll not only fall under Bradley's spell. You'll learn a whole of chemistry.
This was the first novel I have read in this series by Alan Bradley and that is a mistake. To really have any continuity, I feel one should have read at least one or two of his previous works. There were several times when I thought I would simply give up on it. However, it was sent to me in Amazon's Vine program, which obligated me to finish it. And in the end, I was glad I did.
The writing itself, literary in style, is quite beautiful, although it doesn't match my idea of the mystery genre novel that I was expecting. However, the book is intriguing enough that I feel it would only be fair to read one of his earlier books to try to get the sense of the mysterious relationships. I'm sure for those who have read the previous books; you will find it enjoyable although
SPOILER ALERT: you will likely be disappointed to find the series ending.
So in my opinion, this is an enjoyable book if you are already familiar with the de Luce family mysteries.
“You’re mother has been found.” As this book opens, it’s been a week since Flavia’s father has made that shocking announcement. Flavia’s mother, Harriet, went missing in Tibet a decade ago and has been presumed dead, but no proof has ever been found. Now, her body is coming back on a special train into their village of Bishop’s Lacey.
There is a crowd on the platform when the train bringing Harriet’s body arrives, including not only friends from the village but people that Flavia doesn’t know. One of them comes up to Flavia and starts to give her an important but cryptic message to pass on to her father. A moment later, this stranger is dead, crushed under the wheels of the train as it is departing. Who was he? What did his strange message mean? Does it have anything to do with Harriet’s death?
I have complained in the past that the mystery often gets swallowed by other going ons in the book, and that certainly happens again here. There are pieces and clues to the mystery scattered throughout the book, so when Flavia does piece things together, it all makes sense. I will say one aspect of the climax seemed a bit abrupt to me, and I’m still wondering why the characters behaved in that manner, but it’s a minor issue for me.
Since the mystery takes a back seat, this book is really about the mourning that the characters go through. Since Flavia is our narrator, her conflicted emotions are the easiest to see. She never knew Harriet since her mother died when she was just a baby, yet she worries that she should be feeling something. Her father clearly still loves Harriet deeply, and Flavia’s sisters try to deal with the confirmation of the loss in their own ways. It makes for a fascinating read as each of the character’s reactions is genuine and perfect for them.
As a result, I don’t recommend jumping in here. To fully get the impact of this book, you need to know the characters. But if you take the time to get to know them, you’ll be very glad you did.
Just in case this is sounding like a dark book, it is and it isn’t. Flavia’s antics help keep things light, and she gets a new foil in this book that is entertaining. There was one scene that had me welling up with tears one minute and laughing out loud the next. The book walks a very fine line, letting us experience the character’s grief without overwhelming or depressing us.
There are some developments in several ongoing sub-plots. I called part of what happened here, but I was still shocked by the rest of it.
This novel does shift our understanding of the characters in a big way, filling in backstory on some of them. I actually bought what the author did in this respect based on some of the conversations and bits and pieces we’ve seen in earlier books. I’m quite curious to see what if anything is done with this in future books.
The mysteries continue to be weak here, so I can’t give the book my full endorsement, but fans of Flavia and her family will be enthralled by the character study that is The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.
Most recent customer reviews
Limited use of strong language: damn and bugger (which is considered a nasty word in England)
Tense situations...Read more
Circumstances may account for why I rate this so highly, but it is a page turner. Thoughtful. Dry.Read more