Long-time readers of this blog will already know how much I love the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley. Perfect examples of the cozy mystery, these books depict the precocious 12 year old Flavia who solves mysteries that seem to fall in her lap. Much like my other murder mystery hero Jessica Fletcher, death seems to follow Flavia around, but she is more than equipped to handle it.

In this ninth installment of the series, Flavia finds herself on a ‘vacation’ with her two sisters and their trusted groundskeeper/family friend Dogger, floating up a river on a small boat. Just a few pages in Flavia finds a dead body in the water beside them. Because she is the one who discovers it, the local police ask that all four of them stay in town for a few days. This is the first time a Flavia book has taken place entirely outside of their beloved family home Buckshaw, but this change of setting seems to do Flavia good, as her house is a constant reminder of her father’s recent death. Luckily Flavia hasn’t lost any of her intuition, and she quickly finds herself deep into this latest case with her ‘travel’ set of scientific equipment.

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place also sees the continual development of Flavia’s relationship with those around her. I was a bit surprised to read just how much Flavia cares for Dogger, she is constantly stating how much she adores spending time with him, how their minds seem to be in sync, etc. There was a new mention in this book of Dogger being quite handsome, and when he begins to socialize with a woman more suited to his age, Flavia admits she’s quite jealous. Although her character has shown no interest in the opposite sex in the past, I’m not surprised Bradley is trying to prepare us readers for Flavia’s inevitable transition into puberty. One of the reasons I like Flavia so much is because she’s so uncomplicated-she’s fascinated by death, poisons, and teaching adults a lesson whenever possible. She’s also a bit of a feminist, which based on the time (early 1950s) is quite a unique trait for a young girl like her to possess. She’s got a great sense of humour, and one of my favourite lines of hers from this book is as follows:

“Feminine intuition is no more than an acceptable excuse for female brains” (p. 272, ARC).Β 

I could go on and on about these books, but quite frankly, they are just pure joy for me to read. I’ve never once gotten bored with them, and I look forward to each release more than any other series I’ve read so far. There is typically one released per year, so fingers crossed I don’t have to wait longer than that for the tenth installment!

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