As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley. The book will be published on January 14th.
“There we stood, like stone chessmen: Father, the checkmated king, graceful, but fatally wounded in defeat; Aunt Felicity, the ancient queen, her black hat askew, humming some tuneless tune to herself; Feely and Daffy, the rooks, the two remote towers at the distant corners of our castle world.
And me: Flavia de Luce.
- The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
Flavia’s mother is finally coming home after 10 years missing. As the train pulls up to the Buckshaw station and her coffin is carried out her family is there to welcome her; Colonel de Luce, Ophelia, Daphne and young Flavia who never knew her mother. Just as Flavia is coming to terms with her mother’s death mysterious things happen. First of all, Winston Churchill himself is present to welcome Harriet de Luce home and his odd question to Flavia piques her interest. Secondly, a man, just after he delivers a cryptic warning to Flavia to pass on, is crushed under the train.
“Daffy once told me that there are approximately half a million words in the English language. With so many words to choose from, you’d think that just one person, at least, could find something more original than that stupid word “sorry.”” – The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
Flavia is busy though. This is perhaps the first time in the series where Flavia doesn’t really search the mystery out, mystery follows her. Flavia is grieving in her own way and having known this character for five books her subtle mourning and wonderings about grief made me tear up. It’s not often a book manages to pull a tear from me but Flavia did. Dogger is of course his old dependable self, wonderful friend to Flavia as always. Colonel de Luce is lost in his grief and Flavia’s sisters, as ever, seem to exclude her to a certain point. I think the most beautiful point in the book is when Flavia is looking at a film of her family having a picknick while she was still only a bump in her mother’s belly, feeling a bit jelous that Ophelia and Daphne were out in the sun with her while she wasn’t.
“In spite of being sisters, we were none of us what you would call great friends. We were still working out new ways to torture one another.” – The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
Added to Flavia’s problems is the fact that Harriet’s cousin Lena and her daughter, six year old Undine, have come to stay for the funeral. I must say, Undine was about the most annoying character. She was supposed to be of course. Perhaps it speaks of Flavia’s grief that she didn’t simply poison the little twerp, which would have been perfectly understandable.
In the end, Flavia manages to solve the mystery of course, but is it too late? I won’t say anything more, only that there are several more questions. What was her mother doing in Tibet during WWII? What is to happen to Buckshaw now that it has been put uop for sale?
“Love at Arm’s Length: That should have been our family’s motto, rather than the forced witticism of Dare Lucem.” – The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
The book was highly satisfying because it answered a lot of questions that I had been wondering after reading the other books but it raised a number of other questions. Immediately upon finishing the book I went online to see if this was really the last of the Flavia book. Much to my delight, and relief, there are at least four more (http://www.flaviadeluce.com/2012/01/31/320/). I am very much looking forward to the Flavia books going in a new direction.