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The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel    by Alan Bradley order for
Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
by Alan Bradley
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches follows Speaking from Among the Bones as the sixth in Alan Bradley's delightful mystery series starring precocious young chemist Flavia de Luce who resides with her family in a run-down historical mansion, Buckshaw. Flavia lives there with her distant father and his shell-shocked factotum Dogger, and in an uneasy truce with her elder sisters, vain Ophelia and bookish Daphne.

The previous episode ended on a revelation about Flavia's missing mother and the young sleuth unpeels further layers of maternal secrets in The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, which also turns eleven-year-old Flavia's life topsy turvy. It's 1951 and the entire family gathers at the railway station awaiting her mother Harriet, whose body has finally been found. At the station, a tall man approaches Flavia and insists that she tell her father 'that the Gamekeeper is in jeopardy.' Soon afterwards, he is found dead, pushed under the moving train.

Who is the Gamekeeper and what does he have to do with Flavia's family? As she ponders the question - and fights to maintain the required 'stiff upper lip' through the funeral arrangements - Flavia keeps busy with chemistry. She found old film in a camera in the attic, exposed but never developed, and recovers images of her mother. She also seeks to find a way to restore her frozen mother to life, and in the process locates an important document.

This episode introduces new de Luce family members - cousin Lena and her precocious daughter Undine, who irritates Flavia intensely. Flavia jumps at the opportunity to fly in her mother's plane, Blithe Spirit, and takes on a task that her mother's death left incomplete, to do with 'pheasant sandwiches'. She finally learns how her mother really died, and her own life takes on a new direction. I'm very much looking forward to seeing where Alan Bradley takes his brilliant young heroine next.

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