Wednesday, the 20th of January, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!
This week once again my pick is a mystery (no surprises there)–As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley. Published in 2015, this is the seventh in the Flavia de Luce series of mysteries by the author set in 1950s England. In the first book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, we are introduced to eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce who lives in a small English village Bishop’s Lacey, in a crumbling old house (reminiscent of the one in Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle) with two older sisters Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy) and her father, Col Haviland de Luce (who has been a pow in World War II). Her mother was lost in a mountaineering accident when Flavia was just a baby and her body was never recovered. Flavia despite her youth is a budding chemist with access to her uncle Tar(quin)’s well-equipped lab. In the stories narrated in her voice (in which she does come across as older than she is), Flavia usually finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery (her village does throw up a few too many of these for comfort) and ends up solving it before the police do. The Inspector (Hewitt) is luckily a pal and quite happy to discuss matters with her much of the time.
In book 6, the series took quite a surprising turn with quite a few secrets revealed about the de Luce family and more so about Flavia’s mother’s past. In As Chimney Sweeper’s Come to Dust, we are actually leaving the village of Bishop’s Lacey as Flavia, now twelve, is being packed off to Canada–to Miss Bodycote’s Academy, the same school her mother attended before her. To convince her to go, her aunt Felicity mentions the wonderful chemistry laboratory and equipment there. And of course, as we should know, where Flavia is, a murder mystery cannot be far behind. It arrives in Miss Bodycote’s Academy in the form of a mummified body which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Between the usual school activities of attending classes and making friends (and enemies), Flavia must also look into the mystery–identify the corpse, suspects and motives. Alongside, another mystery seems to be plaguing the school with rumours of the school being haunted going around and several girls having gone missing! So Flavia has more than one mystery in her hands!
I really enjoy the Flavia books which I have been trying to read more or less in order though for some reason I have missed out book 3. Even though Flavia’s voice does often come across as much older than an eleven-year-old, I really enjoy the way the stories are told. The setting is the 1950s and in Flavia’s father’s and Dogger’s (who served with and saved his life during the war) stories and now works for the family, we can see how deeply those experiences affected them and indeed even broke them. Alongside we have her sister Daffy whose nose is perpetually in a book, and the stories have a fair share of bookish references which I find such a delight (as any reader would). With this one the setting is entirely different, so am sure we will be meeting a whole set of new characters. Interestingly (and perhaps nor surprisingly) the school is in Canada where Bradley is from (he had I think I read, never been to England when he started writing the books) so it will be fun to see what elements he incorporates.
The copy I have is a second-hand copy ordered online. Since I love the series so much I keep an eye out for it and pick up whichever happens to be available.
Have you read this series? How do you like it? Did you like this book? Any others of this kind that you’d recommend? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!
Find Lisa’s pick this week, The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst, also historical fiction but set in England, here.
Cover image from Goodreads, and book info from Goodreads (here).
I will be posting a review of the previous book in the series, The Dead in their Vaulted Arches on this page soon.