The Dead in their Vaulted Arches

Written by Alan Bradley

Review written by Keith Miles

Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com


The Dead in their Vaulted Arches
Orion
RRP: £12.99
Released: March 13, 2014
Hbk

The precocious Flavia de Luce has won a legion of fans with her beguiling memoirs and this latest addition will swell their numbers.

The body of Harriet de Luce, Flavia’s mother, has been found and shipped back to the family pile. Allegedly killed in a mountaineering accident in Tibet, Harriet is so well-loved by all and sundry that even Winston Churchill contrives to turn up at Buckshaw Halt to welcome her home. A sad occasion takes a tragic turn when someone is deliberately pushed under the train. It falls to Flavia – with a little help from friends – to solve the murder.

Alan Bradley’s novels have a charm and hilarity reminiscent of P.G.Wodehouse. We are back in a realm of dotty characters with comical names and peculiar habits. Battling against her sisters and troubled by her father’s behaviour, Flavia is a sharp-eyed narrator who unearths an old film of her parents that she brings back to life with various chemicals. Her investigation, however, only meanders along and she drifts off happily into asides about odd relatives and the local ancients. Detectives flit into the story but they are marginal characters. It’s left to the engaging young Flavia to build up the evidence that results in the unmasking of the killer.

If you like your crime stories dark, disturbing and blood-soaked, this is not the book for you. If, however, you prefer a beautifully written and affectionate satire on a vanished world when class divisions still mattered and when people knew their place, here is the ideal choice. The pace is leisurely, the mystery is intriguing and the characters will soon seem like old friends.

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