Judith Sullivan is a writer in Leeds, originally from Baltimore. She is working on a crime series set in Paris. Fluent in French, she’s pretty good with English and has conversational Italian and German. She is working to develop her Yorkshire speak.
This is a charming little Nancy Drew style murder – minus the cool car. There is also a touch of St Mary Mead as well in these tales of little Flavia de Luce who stumbles upon bodies in her hometown of Bishop’s Lacey. But the spunkiness of the character and her witty take on events prevent the novel from being too twee for adults or much too twee for younger readers.
The bones in the title refer to an excavated skeleton at her own church, which is not those of the party intended. The spirited lass takes it upon herself to discover the what, where, how and why of it all. The light touch of the wise and educated well beyond her years running commentary is tempered by little Flavia’s sadness at the absent mother and emotionally remote father. This reviewer dealt with some similar at the same age and Flavia’s wistfulness has resonance and it has truth.
Flavia could have been that annoying little precocious pre-teen that nobody liked but the loneliness and of course the humour all makes her sufficiently likeable for us to follow her on her ramble around the bones. One example was especially sweet for a book set in the pre-007 1950s, where Flavia comes to see the vicar who comments “Ah, Flavia. We’ve been expecting you.”
The plot though macabre has just the right elements of whimsy – notably the cadaver being discovered in full gas mask regalia. This proves in contrast to the 500-year-old saint’s body that was expected by the good citizens of Bishop’s Lacey. There are the wonderfully Dickensian names of Flavia’s friends and neighbours including Delorna Higginson and Adam Tradescant Sowerby.
There is a freshness and innocence about this book that SHOTS hopes young people who tweet can appreciate and enjoy. We look forward to Flavia’s next wittily-named and cleverly carried out investigation.