I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce Series #4)

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce Series #4)

by Alan Bradley

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Overview

“Every Flavia de Luce novel is a reason to celebrate.”—USA Today
 
ALAN BRADLEY, AUTHOR OF THE MOST AWARD-WINNING SERIES DEBUT OF ANY YEAR, RETURNS WITH ANOTHER IRRESISTIBLE FLAVIA DE LUCE NOVEL.
 
“[Alan] Bradley has created one of the most original, charming, devilishly creative and hilarious detectives of any age or any time.”—Bookreporter
 
It’s Christmastime, and Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.
 
“[Flavia is] the most intrepid and charming adolescent chemist/detective/busybody in all of rural, post–World War II England.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Quirky and delightful . . . Flavia is a classic literary character who manages to appeal to both young and old readers equally.”—Wichita Falls Times Record News
 
“Bradley’s plot twists and turns delightfully.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST MYSTERIES OF THE YEAR BY THE SEATTLE TIMES

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385344029
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Series: Flavia de Luce Series , #4
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 91,339
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Alan Bradley is the New York Times bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring Without MustardI Am Half-Sick of ShadowsSpeaking from Among the Bones, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d, and The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, as well as the ebook short story “The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse.”

Read an Excerpt

Tendrils of raw fog floated up from the ice like agonized spirits departing their bodies. The cold air was a hazy, writhing mist.
 
Up and down the long gallery I flew, the silver blades of my skates making the sad scraping sound of a butcher’s knife being sharpened energetically on stone. Beneath the icy surface, the intricately patterned parquet of the hardwood floor was still clearly visible— even though its colors were somewhat dulled by diffraction.
 
Overhead, the twelve dozen candles I had pinched from the butler’s pantry and stuffed into the ancient chandeliers flickered madly in the wind of my swift passage. Round and round the room I went— round and round and up and down. I drew in great lungfuls of the biting air, blowing it out again in little silver trumpets of condensation.
 
When at last I came skidding to a stop, chips of ice flew up in a breaking wave of tiny colored diamonds.
 
 
It had been easy enough to flood the portrait gallery: An India- rubber garden hose snaked in through an open window from the terrace and left running all night had done the trick— that, and the bitter cold which, for the past fortnight, had held the countryside in its freezing grip.
 
Since nobody ever came to the unheated east wing of Buckshaw anyway, no one would notice my improvised skating rink— not, at least, until springtime, when it melted. No one, perhaps, but my oil- painted ancestors, row upon row of them, who were at this moment glaring sourly down at me from their heavy frames in icy disapproval of what I had done.
 
I blew them a loud, echoing raspberry tart and pushed off again into the chill mist, now doubled over at the waist like a speed skater, my right arm digging at the air, my pigtails flying, my left hand tucked behind my back as casually as if I were out for a Sunday stroll in the country.
 
How lovely it would be, I thought, if some fashionable photographer such as Cecil Beaton should happen by with his camera to immortalize the moment.
 
“Carry on just as you were, dear girl,” he would say. “Pretend I’m not here.” And I would fly again like the wind round the vastness of the ancient paneled portrait gallery, my passage frozen now and again by the pop of a discreet flashbulb.
 
Then, in a week or two, there I would be, in the pages of Country Life or The Illustrated London News, caught in mid- stride— frozen forever in a determined and forwardlooking slouch.
 
Dazzling . . . delightful . . . de Luce,” the caption would read. “Eleven- year- old skater is poetry in motion.”
 
“Good lord!” Father would exclaim. “It’s Flavia!
 
“Ophelia! Daphne!” he would call, fl apping the page in the air like a paper fl ag, then glancing at it again, just to be sure. “Come quickly. It’s Flavia— your sister.”
 
At the thought of my sisters I let out a groan. Until then I hadn’t much been bothered by the cold, but now it gripped me with the sudden force of an Atlantic gale: the bitter, biting, paralyzing cold of a winter convoy— the cold of the grave.
 
I shivered from shoulders to toes and opened my eyes.
 
The hands of my brass alarm clock stood at a quarter past six.
 
Swinging my legs out of bed, I fi shed for my slippers with my toes, then, bundling myself in my bedding— sheets, quilt, and all— heaved out of bed and, hunched over like a corpulent cockroach, waddled towards the windows.
 
It was still dark outside, of course. At this time of year the sun wouldn’t be up for another two hours.
 
The bedrooms at Buckshaw were as vast as parade squares— cold, drafty spaces with distant walls and shadowy perimeters, and of them all, mine, in the far south corner of the east wing, was the most distant and the most desolate.
 
Because of a long and rancorous dispute between two of my ancestors, Antony and William de Luce, about the sportsmanship of certain military tactics during the Crimean War, they had divided Buckshaw into two camps by means of a black line painted across the middle of the foyer: a line which each of them had forbidden the other to cross. And so, for various reasons— some quite boring, others downright bizarre— at the time when other parts of the house were being renovated during the reign of King George V, the east wing had been left largely unheated and wholly abandoned.
 
The superb chemical laboratory built by his father for my great- uncle Tarquin, or “Tar,” de Luce had stood forgotten and neglected until I had discovered its treasures and made it my own. With the help of Uncle Tar’s meticulously detailed notebooks and a savage passion for chemistry that must have been born in my blood, I had managed to become quite good at rearranging what I liked to think of as the building blocks of the universe.
 
“Quite good?” a part of me is saying. “Merely ‘quite good’? Come off it, Flavia, old chum! You’re a bloody marvel, and you know it!”
 
Most chemists, whether they admit it or not, have a favorite corner of their craft in which they are forever tinkering, and mine is poisons.
 
While I could still become quite excited by recalling how I had dyed my sister Feely’s knickers a distinctive Malay yellow by boiling them in a solution of lead acetate, followed by a jolly good stewing in a solution of potassium chromate, what really made my heart leap up with joy was my ability to produce a makeshift but handy poison by scraping the vivid green verdigris from the copper float- ball of one of Buckshaw’s Victorian toilet tanks.
 
I bowed to myself in the looking glass, laughing aloud at the sight of the fat white slug-in-a-quilt that bowed back at me.
 
I leapt into my cold clothing, shrugging on at the last minute, on top of everything else, a baggy gray cardigan I had nicked from the bottom drawer of Father’s dresser. This lumpy monstrosity— swarming with khaki and maroon diamonds, like an overbaked rattlesnake— had been knitted for him the previous Christmas by his sister, Aunt Felicity
 
“Most thoughtful of you, Lissy,” Father had said, deftly dodging any outright praise of the ghastly garment itself. When I noticed in August that he still hadn’t worn the thing, I considered it fair game and it had, since the onset of cold weather, become my favorite.
 
The sweater didn’t fi t me, of course. Even with the sleeves rolled up I looked like a baggy monkey picking bananas. But to my way of thinking, at least in winter, woolly warmth trumps freezing fashion any day of the week.
 
I have always made it a point never to ask for clothing for Christmas. Since it’s a dead cert that you’ll get it anyway, why waste a wish?
 
Last year I had asked Father Christmas for some badly needed bits of laboratory glassware— had even gone to the trouble of preparing an itemized list of flasks, beakers, and graduated test tubes, which I tucked carefully under my pillow and, by the Lord Harry! he had brought them!
 
Feely and Daffy didn’t believe in Father Christmas, which, I suppose, is precisely the reason he always brought them such dud gifts: scented soap, generally, and dressing gowns and slipper sets that looked and felt as if they had been cut from Turkey carpet.
 
Father Christmas, they had told me, again and again, was for children.
 
“He’s no more than a cruel hoax perpetrated by parents who wish to shower gifts upon their icky offspring without having to actually touch them,” Daffy had insisted last year. “He’s a myth. Take my word for it. I am, after all, older than you, and I know about these things.”
 
Did I believe her? I wasn’t sure. When I was able to get away on my own and think about it without tears springing to my eyes, I had applied my rather considerable deductive skills to the problem, and come to the conclusion that my sisters were lying. Someone, after all, had brought the glassware, hadn’t they?
 
There were only five possible human candidates. My father, Colonel Haviland de Luce, was penniless, and was therefore out of the question, as was my mother, Harriet, who had died in a mountaineering accident when I was no more than a baby.
 
Dogger, who was Father’s general roustabout and jack- of- all- trades, simply hadn’t the resources of mind, body, or finances to lug round lavish gifts secretly by night in a drafty and decaying country house. Dogger had been a prisoner of war in the Far East, where he had suffered so awfully that his brain had remained connected to those horrors by an invisible elastic cord— a cord that was sometimes still given a jerk by cruel Fate, usually at the most inopportune moments.
 
“ ’E ’ad to eat rats!” Mrs. Mullet had told me, wide- eyed in the kitchen. “Rats, fancy! They ’ad to fry ’em!”
 
With everyone in the household disqualified for one reason or another as the Bringer of Gifts, that left only Father Christmas.
 
He would be coming again in less than a week and, in order to settle the question for once and for all, I had long ago laid plans to trap him.
 
Scientifically.

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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 112 reviews.
Denise_P More than 1 year ago
It's Christmastime at Buckshaw and Flavia devises a plan to check Father Christmas in the act. But as the house fills up with a movie crew she has other things on her mind as well. The movie crew arrives at Buckshaw after Colonel de Luce lets them tape there in exchange for money (their money situation is still dire). Flavia becomes fast friends with the star of the movie, Phyllis Wyvern. When someone from the movie crew is suddenly murdered Flavia investigates the murder. During her investigation of the murder and her plot to catch Father Christmas Flavia finds herself in danger, will this Christmas be her last? This is by far my favorite book of the Flavia de Luce series. Just when I thought I couldn't like Flavia any more than I do, she turns up even more precocious and loveable as ever. I loved her devised plan to catch Father Christmas, and all through the book it felt like it was Flavia and me plotting together. Flavia is like the little sister I never had but always wanted. I would recommend this book to people who have read and enjoyed the other Flavia de Luce books and enjoyed them. This is even a good read for those who haven't read the other books.
RheaT More than 1 year ago
My only regret, in having read this book, is that I have to wait another year for the fifth book in the series to be published. Flavia is the hero of my inner child, and her story is told so well by the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredibly creative writing. Great storyline. I love Flavia De Luce.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Throughout reading this amazing book, I was always captured by the unexpected twists and turns of the novel, the beautiful figurative language used, and, of course, the clever mind of Flavia de Luce. I read this book in merely a few days, because I always dreaded the moment when I would have to put it down. I was eager to turn each page, and immersed in Flavia's life of murder, poisons, and the occasional wise words of her friend Dogger. You don't even have to read the other books before it, it will still come off as spectacular. If you are looking for an amazing, captivating mystery, look no further. This novel, by the incredibly talented author Alan Bradley, has it all. Enjoy!
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
A Christmas return to Buckshaw and the life of Flavia de Luce is welcome indeed! A film crew has descended on Buckshaw to make a movie and help defray the costs of running the estate. Over half of Bishop's Lacey makes the trek out for a holiday benefit concert (that church needs a lot of work), only to be snowed in during the subsequent blizzard. Of course, a body is discovered and with no where to run, all are suspects in this story. Her trusty bike in storage for the winter, Flavia must make do with the hidey holes at Buckshaw to ferret out information. Although it has a familiar feel, the story is fun as always. Flavia is such a great character, kicked out the Girl Guides, she's a total cross between Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy and Miss Marple. This book would stand alone alright if you're new to the de Luce clan, but you're shorting yourself if you don't read them all.
Anonymous 22 hours ago
I love all the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley. JB
indygo88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yet another very enjoyable read in the Flavia deLuce series, this one taking place at Christmastime & solely within the Buckshaw residence. Here, we're introduced to a few new characters and are able to revisit some older ones. I must admit, it's starting to feel a bit peculiar that an 11-year-old seems to find herself indirectly involved with so many murders in such a short period of time (as is the case over the time period of these first four novels), but if you just sit back & enjoy the ride, you'll find yourself drawn in every time & anxious to read the next upcoming installment of the tales of this highly precocious, yet lovable young girl.
melaniehope on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
absolutely love this mystery series. They are so much fun to read and I love the character of Flavia. What a sarcastic, smart sleuth! And she's only 11 years old.This was another great book in the series. It has a bit of a Christmas theme to it. In order to save Buckshaw Hall, Colonel de Luce rents his home out to a film company. They will be shooting a movie starring none other than famous Phyllis Wyvern. Soon after the film crews arrival, the entire village attends a charity event at the de Luce home. Phyllis is found dead, strangled by her own film strip later that evening. With a house full of suspects due to a snowstorm that has kept everyone housebound at the hall, Flavia once again uses her brilliant deducting skills to launch her own investigation. But Flavia is also busy in her laboratory whipping up chemical concoctions that she hopes will help her solve the true identity of Father Christmas, as well.If you love this series, then you will love this book. The entire story takes place at Buckshaw Hall, but it was a fun twist having the village all gathered at Flavia's home, with a raging winter storm blowing outside. It did not seem to have the twists and turns of the previous books, but that certainly did not take away from my enjoyment of this fourth installment. The author is a skilled writer who has created an amazing heroine and a wonderful series that I eagerly look forward to reading each time!
BookAngel_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is a lot going on at Buckshaw. Aunt Felicity is coming for Christmas, and a film crew is arriving - including the famous actress Phyllis Wyvern - to make a movie on Buckshaw grounds. In addition, Flavia de Luce is conducting science experiments involving fireworks and very strong adhesive. The indomitable 11 year old hopes to catch Saint Nick in the act on Christmas Eve. You would think that alone would be enough for one novel, but there is also a play performed at Buckshaw, an unexpected childbirth, a blizzard, and a murder (of course). Flavia - and the police - are out to catch the murderer, and all the events come together in a grand crescendo by the end of the novel.(I did find it a little hard to believe, that Flavia, the child genius with the scientific mind, still believed in Saint Nick. It seemed out of character to me. But maybe that was the point. I don't know. It did not detract from my enjoyment of the book, however.)It was a fun read, light and amusing, and I enjoyed it as much as "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie", book #1 in the Flavia de Luce series.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eleven-year old Flavia De Luce gets involved, once again, in a murder that she thinks only she can solve, and she happily goes about getting into all manner of trouble best avoided. This is a fun series and I enjoyed reading the book. Flavia is a terrific character, very intelligent but still with a child's maturity level. She is obsessed with chemistry, especially poisons, and as odd as that sounds, it makes for entertaining reading.Having said that, I would have rated the book more highly if it had been the first one I'd read in the series. It is too similar to the other two I've read with just a change of minor characters. It just didn't seem fresh and new to me. I also wondered why someone as bright and logical as Flavia would still believe in Father Christmas at her age, so that part of the story didn't ring true to me. Nevertheless, it is a pleasant story, and I can't help but like the irrepressible Flavia.
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's nearing Christmas, and in order to keep the family in house and home, the Colonel has agreed to allow a movie crew to shoot on location at Buckshaw. The star of the show is one of the most famed actresses of the time. It's about 40% of the way into the book before we get to the corpse. Needless to say, 11-year-old Flavia will get involved in the investigation. This is the first in the series where Flavia has spent the majority of the time at Buckshaw. I enjoyed this change. Flavia is always a delight! I enjoyed all the literary references in this installment. While the book is set during the Christmas season, it's a book that can be enjoyed year-round. I would encourage reading the earlier books before reading this one because there are some things that will be appreciated only by those who have followed the series. This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.
Twink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley arrived in my mailbox early last week. I looked at it and put it down, determined to save it for reading closer to Christmas. Looked at it again the next day and hid it under a couch cushion. But to no avail as I knew it was there and I just couldn't wait until December to devour the latest in the Flavia De Luce series.For those of you unfamiliar with this utterly delightful series, I'll give you some background. It is 1950. Flavia is eleven years old and lives with her father and two older sisters in the crumbling old family home in Bishop's Lacey, England. Flavia has a penchant for cooking up chemical concoctions in the chemistry lab in the far off east wing. She considers herself on par with the local constabulary and often offers her assistance. "While I could still become quite excited by recalling how I had dyed my sister Feely's knickers a distinctive Malay yellow by boiling them in a solution of lead acetate, followed by a jolly good stewing in a solution of potassium chromate, what really made my heart leap up with joy was my ability to produce a makeshift but handy poison by scraping the vivid green verdigris form the copper floatball of one of Buckshaw's Victorian toilet tanks."Flavia's father has struggled with the upkeep of Buckshaw. He has reluctantly agreed to host a film crew over the holidays. Film star Phyllis Wyvern is in attendance and offers to be the star in a fundraiser to be held at Buckshaw. The entire village troops to the mansion, but are snowed in. And when a dead body is found, any one of the attendees could be the murderer...And of course, since it's happening right under her nose, Flavia must jump in. "In my eleven years of life I've seen a number of corpses. Each of them was interesting in a different way, and this one was no exception."I absolutely adore the character of Flavia! I've said it before and I'll say it again...."Flavia is one of the most endearing, captivating, curious, beguiling, precocious characters I've ever discovered in the pages of a book." I love her thought processes and inner dialogue. She is so old and yet still so young. Her attempts to puzzle out the identity of the murderer are at odds with the little girl concocting a super sticky glue to capture Saint Nick on the chimney and prove to her sisters that he is indeed real.Although the murder plot line is good, for this reader, it is the characters that Bradley has created that capture and hold my interest the most. I love the quirky inhabitants of the village, the sparring sisters and how we learn a little bit more with each book about some of them. This time around we get to learn more about the enigmatic and mysterious Dogger - Buckshaw's man of many hats. What is the appeal of an eleven year old protagonist for adult readers? Well, for this reader, it's the chance to vicariously relive my missed opportunities to become Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy. And honestly, you can't read any of the books, without smiling and chuckling. I can't wait for the next book in this planned six book series - Seeds of Antiquity. Highly, highly recommended! Ask Santa for a copy!
voracious on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's Christmastime at Buckshaw Manor and Colonel de Luce has invited a film company to shoot a movie at Buckshaw to help alleviate some of the family's ever amassing debt. After staging a scene from Romeo and Juliet, Flavia finds one of the actresses, Phyllis Wyvern, murdered in a Buckshaw bedroom. As one would expect from 11 year-old Flavia, she quickly becomes involved in investigating the case, even putting aside (briefly) her own scientific experiments regarding the trapping of Santa Claus. As a competing forensic detective, Flavia once again finds herself at odds with Bishop Lacey's Inspector Hewitt, as she reluctantly hands over clues she was the first to find. To complicate matters, the town is pounded with a massive blizzard that traps most of the inhabitants of Bishop Lacey at Buckshaw Manor, and with it, all of the suspects in the murder (and there are many, according to Flavia's calculations!). As with each of the other Flavia novels, Flavia is charming and delightful as she finds the dead body, discovers clues, and ultimately solves the murder. In this installment, more is learned about Aunt Felicity, Dogger, and the Colonel, as Flavia pieces together the connections between the actors in the manor and her family's past experiences in the war. As with the other books, I greatly enjoyed visiting with Flavia again. I couldn't help but upload some of the lines from the novel as Flavia's effervescent enthusiasm for all things scientific tickles me every time, particularly when someone underestimates her and assumes that she would like typical 11 year-old girl pasttimes. This was a fun and quick holiday read and I would recommend it to anyone who loves Flavia and her antics.
bsiemens on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What is it about Flavia de Luce, narrator and main character of this mystery series that I hold back from finishing like the last of the Easter candy. In previous books, I've thought about this eleven-year-old's conviction that she should be permitted to the adult society of the 1950s. I've considered her love of chemistry and ability to see aspects of the mystery that others don't. I've empathized with her sadness when her sisters torment or her father ignores. In this book, I have enjoyed her use of archaic language and phrasing. It's all too good to be true; it's sublime.
Fungirl421 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is perfect holiday reading. It might be time to replace "Twas the Night before Christmas" with this Alan Bradley gem.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is Christmastime at Buckshaw, the English estate owned by the de Luce family and eleven year-old Flavia has nothing more on her mind than concocting a trap to catch Father Christmas to see if he really exists as her tormenting older sisters have stated that he doesn't. The budding chemist has created a sticky substance that will keep him trapped on the roof of Buckshaw. But then her father announces that he has been paid by a film crew to use Buckshaw to film a new movie starring the glamorous Phyllis Wyvern. Her father has been selling off the silver and doing what he can to keep from losing the grand estate.Flavia is at first enchanted by Miss Wyvern and then intrigued by the the things she overhears. The vicar of Bishop's Lacey has persuaded Miss Wyvern and her co-star Desmond Duncan to give a small performance for the townspeople on Christmas Eve at Buckshaw, to raise funds for a new church roof. But there is a massive snowstorm during the performance and no one is able to leave. Flavia later discovers Miss Wyvern murdered and now has a huge list of suspects and is determined to solve this murder even though the local constabulary would like her to stay out of it.I think this is my favorite installment yet of the Flavia mysteries. Flavia is a great character. At eleven, she is as smart as any scientist, with a particular fascination with poison, she is observant and deductive, yet still believes in Father Christmas and is forever tormented by her older sisters and haunted by the death of her mother when she was a baby. I love the setting of this small town, post WWII English countryside. The usual cast of characters are there but we see a bit more of them: Dogger, who was traumatized during the war but is a solid friend to Flavia; Daphne and Ophelia, her older sisters who we see a different side of in this novel; her Aunt felicity who has some secrets of her own.This is a great, fun mystery novel, charming and quirky. And it's snowy, Christmas setting makes it perfect to read this time of year. I enjoyed this very much.my rating 5/5
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this is the best novel yet in the Flavia de Luce series - the characters have all grown immeasurably, so much so that the mystery sometimes feels a bit extraneous! Flavia is utterly charming in this latest installment, I think she has become one of my very favorite mystery heroines. The world needs more 11 year olds who can name the components of arsenic without hesitation.
sarah-e on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As much fun as the first in the series, plus Christmas! A jolly good time despite a murder at Buckshaw, and quite a happy ending - what's not to love here? I find myself in Flavia's position as I read, hanging on to every nuance from her father and sisters, praying that a crumb of affection might get thrown her way. I really enjoy how slowly it's all being doled out, and this book does not dissapoint. If you like the others, this one will suit you just fine!
onetiredmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another Flavia de Luce novel and I think it's my favorite so far. I say so far because all indications are that Mr. Bradley will continue to write these wonderful books, thank goodness. I love Flavia and her sleuthing!Flavia de Luce is a precocious, Chemistry-loving, mystery-solving, 11-year-old girl living in rural 1950's England in a big old drafty mansion that her father cannot afford since her mother, the inheritor, passed away without a will. He gives in to the necessity of allowing a movie to be filmed in the home. Flavia and her sisters are thrilled and even put aside their bickering when the crew arrives just before Christmas. Flavia has conjured up a super-sticky glue which she slathers inside the chimney in order to catch Father Christmas but even that is forgotten when a murder occurs.What I loved about it: Flavia, of course, but even secondary characters are well-described. Dogger is one of my favorites. I also love that all of Feely suitors end up at the house at the same time. Oh, and I love that Flavia still believes in Father Christmas as smart as she is.
JoLynnsbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Flavia de Luce returns in this wintry tale of mystery and discovery. The de Luce family is saved from eviction at the eleventh hour when the Colonel rents their home to a movie company for filming over the Christmas holidays. Naturally murder and mayhem ensue. Flavia is busy with several mysteries of her own, but still manages to assist her friend Inspector Hewitt in solving the case.Alan Bradley has created a most delightful character in Flavia and surrounded her with a wonderfully quirky supporting cast. Flavia's life and the impishly precocious workings of her inner mind are by far the starring roles in this story. This is the fourth Flavia de Luce mystery. You don't need to have read the previous books to enjoy I Am Half-Sick of Shadows; but why miss out?
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry I didn't get this review up before Christmas, but wow, what a fun book! If you know someone who loves a good cozy, this would make a great belated present.Flavia hasn't decided if Santa is real or not, so she does what she would normally do - she sets up an experiment involving chemistry to see if the big man in red is a fraud. In the meantime, her father has leased the hall to a movie company to film its latest blockbuster. Her sister Feely is starstruck, but all Flavia can see is that this group of movie people is rather unpleasant. And then murder breaks out during a snowstorm, presenting the classic locked room scenario.Flavia is as much fun as usual and the whole book is a delight. Can't wait for the next!
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4* of fiveThe Book Report: Flavia de Luce does Christmas. Buckshaw, Bishop's Lacey, is now the scene of Ilium Films's new Phyllis Wyvern extravaganza, The Cry of the Raven. The film company has paid the desperately strapped-for-cash Colonel Haviland de Luce a sizable sum to use Buckshaw as the backdrop for this bound-to-be-mega hit, which means Christmas will be spent with an entire film crew up the family's collective backside. Flavia meets the famous Miss Wyvern as she enters the house, charming as cheesecake on a plate of strawberries, even winning the adulation of the normally suspicious Flavia by demonstrating her apparently genuine interest in matters of murder: She quotes from the dreadful gossip sheet Illustrated London News about a recent scandalous killing. Well then!Not long after the lady's arrival, the cast and crew and director make their various appearances, as doe the Vicar, with a modest proposal: He'd like famous movie star Wyvern to appear as Juliet, her star-making role, in a village fete in aid of the church roof's repair. To absolutely universal astonishment, Miss Wyvern agrees, and the plot begins to spin faster and faster. Since the hairpins have begun to fall, and Miss Wyvern's true meanness is revealed, the fact that she's murdered by someone present at Buckshaw after the fete...which includes just about the whole village, since a blizzard's blown in, sealing all the audience in Buckshaw's foyer...comes as no surprise whatever.Even though the bloom has gone off the rose of Flavia's admiration for the lady, a murder under her own roof is simply too much to resist meddling in! And meddle she does, searching the victim's room and even standing in at the post-mortem examination of the body. Flavia, though, is callously shut out by Inspector Hewitt of the Hinley P.D., as is his wont. He has, thinks Flavia, personal animus against her now, as Flavia made a terrible break at tea taken in the Hewitt home.But in the end, Flavia solves the horrible, tawdry crime, and fails to become the next murder victim herself by dint of one of her chemistry experiments designed to trap Santa Claus on his way to the chimney, thereby disproving her horrible, heartless sisters's claims that there is no Santa. And, at the very tippy-end of the book, Buckshaw's future at the hands of the tax receivers is probably averted thanks to the very play that caused the Christmas crisis to begin with...a lovely, deft scene that wrapped up an end I was really ticked about having loose.Merry Christmas indeed, Flavia.My Review: Every series needs a Christmas book. This is it. If you liked the others, this one will please you; but it has the standard plot-hole and plausibility flaws. If they didn't tick you off before, they won't now, either. Happy Holidays!
dpappas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's Christmastime at Buckshaw and Flavia devises a plan to check Father Christmas in the act. But as the house fills up with a movie crew she has other things on her mind as well. The movie crew arrives at Buckshaw after Colonel de Luce lets them tape there in exchange for money (their money situation is still dire). Flavia becomes fast friends with the star of the movie, Phyllis Wyvern. When someone from the movie crew is suddenly murdered Flavia investigates the murder. During her investigation of the murder and her plot to catch Father Christmas Flavia finds herself in danger, will this Christmas be her last?This is by far my favorite book of the Flavia de Luce series. Just when I thought I couldn't like Flavia any more than I do, she turns up even more precocious and loveable as ever. I loved her devised plan to catch Father Christmas, and all through the book it felt like it was Flavia and me plotting together. Flavia is like the little sister I never had but always wanted. I would recommend this book to people who have read and enjoyed the other Flavia de Luce books and enjoyed them. This is even a good read for those who haven't read the other books.
delphimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bradley writes of England in the 1950's with Flavia de Luce as his 11-year old detective. The week of Christmas is the setting, and Flavia has concocted a formula that will catch Father Christmas. The manor home of Buckshaw has been leased to a filming company. Snowstorms plummet the area. Then the unspeakable happens when the leading actress is found strangled. Flavia hastens to discover the killer before the police solve the case. The story abounds in delightful characters. Flavia utilizes her chemistry knowledge to manufacture a brilliant fireworks display. The book ends with a solution to the de Luces financial woes.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It¿s the Christmas season and our heroine, Flavia DeLuce, has an unusual plan (involving her own version of Super Glue)to find out once and for all whether there truly is a Father Christmas. Although she¿s precocious in the chemistry lab of her late mother¿s ancestral home, she¿s still a bit naïve about much of the world around her. Of course, Flavia is just eleven years old and is living in early 1950s Britain, in a tiny village. Financial woes have convinced Flavia¿s father to rent out the family home, Buckshaw, for a movie production. So Buckshaw is suddenly over-run with cast and crew. Then the local vicar convinces the movie¿s two stars to perform a scene from Romeo and Juliet to benefit the church-roof fund, and Buckshaw hosts half the town for the fund-raiser. When a blizzard hits, it¿s one giant sleepover at Buckshaw. Then there is a murder. Flavia has a track record of helping the local inspector solve his cases, so she jumps in with both feet. Although her sisters are no help, and her father is in his usual fog, she has ¿Dogger,¿ the family factotum, to assist, and the cook, Mrs. Mullet to fortify her with her god-awful concoctions. Of course, Flavia has other things on her plate. She¿s fending off the assaults, mostly but not all verbal, from her older sisters; planning a surprise fireworks display; and ingratiating herself with the movie stars. Although subsequent books in this series have never had for me the magic and sparkle of the first, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the Flavia DeLuce mysteries are among my all-time favorites, mostly because of Flavia herself ¿ she¿s an absolute gem. And our heroine may sustain her bumps and bruises (including some to her ego) along the way, she always manages to save the day ¿ and usually herself ¿ with intellect and grit. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (4th in the series) is a marvelous read, one I can highly recommend. (Quite suitable for young readers, too.)Review based on publisher-provided copy of the book.