This is the eighth Flavia de Luce mystery.
Flavia returns home after four months in Canada and learns that her father is seriously ill. Unable to visit because she has been told he needs rest to recover, Flavia finds distraction in a murder. Running an errand for a friend, she discovers the body of a local woodcarver, a discovery which, as expected, has her take Gladys for several rides as she tries to piece together what happened.
Readers familiar with the Flavia de Luce series will find few surprises. The plot stays true to the formula developed in the previous books. All of the secondary characters are present though there is less interaction with her sisters, interactions which I always enjoyed. Flavia’s observations provide the usual humour.
Flavia keeps repeating that she is a changed person since her sojourn in Canada. She finds herself behaving uncharacteristically. Early on, Flavia admits, “For quite some time now, I had not been myself. Much as I hated to admit it, the events of the past several months had shaken me rather badly. I was not at all the Flavia de Luce I had once been. Whether that was a bad thing or a good one remained to be seen, but until I managed to work it out, the feeling was one of bearing an enormous invisible burden: the weight of the world.” At one point, she even says, “Who, really, am I? Is Flavia de Luce the person everyone thinks she is? Is she who I think she is?” But it is not only Flavia who is changing; Dogger says, “’I fear our world is changing, Miss Flavia . . . and not necessarily for the better.’” I found all of this signaling a little heavy-handed so the ending came as no surprise.
One element that bothered me is Flavia’s not visiting her father in the hospital. Though she is told that her father needs his rest and so visits are not allowed, since when is Flavia stopped when she really wants to do something? And though her investigation occupies her mind, it seems strange that she gives her father so little thought even though she says she understands “how grave Father’s situation must be.”
Perhaps I am getting tired of Flavia because I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did the earlier ones. The book is so much like the others that I found it almost tedious.