Irrepressible Flavia de Luce, the self-taught whiz kid who adores cyanide and has a soft spot for strychnine, confronts lead poisoning.
To celebrate St. Tancred’s quincentennial, the vicar has asked permission from the diocese to open the holy man’s tomb and have his remains present at the feast. Naturally, 11-year-old Flavia, who loves corpses the way other girls her age love butterflies and unicorns, mounts her bicycle, Gladys, and races to the church to be first in line to see the remains. The vicar, the diggers and Flavia are aghast when the first corpse they come upon belongs to Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, who died with a gas mask on and a bit of ruffle at his throat. Inspector Hewitt is at a loss, but Flavia has stepped up to crime-solving before (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, 2011, etc.). Despite the distressing news that the debts of her father, the colonel, so exceed his income that Buckshaw, the family home, must be put on the market, Flavia conscientiously collects blood dabs; discovers love rivals in the Ladies Altar Guild; meets Magistrate Ridley-Smith’s son, locked away in the upper reaches of Bogmore Hall, who mistakes Flavia for her long-gone mother, Harriet; discovers a tunnel leading from the cemetery to St. Tancred’s crypt; and consults with private eye Adam Sowerby, who knows that some Latin marginalia in an ancient text and plant lore gleaned from herbalist Mad Meg are important clues. Then there’s nothing more to do than call Inspector Hewitt into the study and explain everything to him. But can young Flavia, who can deal with even grand-scale mayhem, cope with her father’s pronouncement on the very last page?
The Flavia bandwagon rolls on: Not only will she star in five more novels, but she’ll also shine in several made-for-television films.