Fans of English village mysteries who are looking for something different should check out Alan Bradley’s whodunits featuring amateur sleuth Flavia de Luce.
A precocious 11-year-old with a genius for chemistry, Flavia has a passion for poisons and a nose for murder. She lives with her older sisters Ophelia (“Feely”) and Daphne (“Daffy”) and her grief-crippled widowed father at Buckshaw, the crumbling family pile on the edge of the village of Bishop’s Lacy. Astride her trusty bicycle, Gladys, Flavia, often aided by the household’s war-damaged dogsbody, Dogger, ricochets around the village gathering clues and offering assistance to the local constabulary. Flavia will tunnel through an old graveyard, perform complex chemical analyses, or swallow her considerable pride and play the innocent to lure unsuspecting adults into divulging secrets. Although funny and fast-paced, these novels are balanced by moments of sweetness and even sadness.