Oh, to be 11 again and pal around with irresistible wunderkind Flavia de Luce.
Upset at a fortuneteller’s words, Flavia upends a candle and, whoosh, the gypsy’s tent goes up in flames. Determined to atone, especially since Fenella Faa has confided that years ago Flavia’s father, the Colonel, once drove her and her husband off his Buckshaw estate, Flavia invites her onto the property, where she’s soon attacked. And she’s not the only one. Brookie Harewood, whom Flavia found fiddling around with Buckshaw antique fire irons in the library in the dead of night, is soon poked dead by a de Luce sterling-silver lobster fork on the estate’s Trafalgar lawn. Determined to resolve these troubles and win the esteem of Inspector Hewitt, Flavia springs into full detecting mode, assaying chemicals in her laboratory, sidling up to suspects and making leading remarks, finding then losing Fenella’s granddaughter Porcelain, reconsidering the claims of a certain Mrs. Bull about a gypsy stealing her child, sorting through an antiques scam, and researching the proclivities of the Hobblers, a mostly defunct religious sect. There’s time left over, of course, to bedevil Daffy and Feely, her older sisters, and win the heart of everyone who’s followed her earlier escapades (The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, 2010, etc.).
A splendid romp through 1950s England led by the world’s smartest and most incorrigible preteen.