My Chemical Murder: Last Stand at Buckshaw?

The Burghley country house, perhaps not unlike Buckshaw. Courtesy Morris' County Seats.
The Burghley country house, perhaps not unlike Buckshaw. Courtesy Morris' County Seats.

I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that Flavia de Luce's mother's body comes home to Buckshaw at the beginning of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. Nor that someone gets pushed in front of a train very shortly afterwards.  The questions facing Flavia are, who pushed the victim, how does she revive her mother, and how does she deal with the obnoxious Undine? There are other major questions to answer, such as how to get through the mourning period (and an eventful funeral), but Flavia mourns by dealing with the first three. Undine, by the way, is Flavia's younger cousin, daughter of Lena de Luce, part of the Cornish branch of the family. Lena, along with her cunning daughter, have come to pay their respects, although they may have ulterior motives. Aunt Felicity has come as well, with her own surprises for Flavia.  Along the way, Flavia figures out how to develop film, read invisible ink, and tangles with the Home Office. The ending ties up some loose ends from earlier in the series (such as, will Buckshaw actually be sold), but seems to launch Flavia into a whole new milieu. 

Once again, another lively jaunt through rural England in the post-war era. The fervent wish of Flavia to resurrect the mother she never knew is handled with care, but you do see the humor in the actual process she undertakes to do so. Flavia also seems more reflective than usual, which may be the result of the finality of her mother's fate, or it may just be the dreaded approach of adolescence. This is not as cheery a work as some of the others in the series, but it is a pivotal one. Also, it is fun to see the boot on the other foot when it comes to Undine, since Flavia has been the fly in her sisters' creme de visage throughout the series. What happens next? Rest assured, it will not be the same old, same old.

Want more fun?

My previous review of Flavia's  adventures, with links to other books in the series.

 Twelve Drummers Drumming  by C.C. Bennison. First in a series, Father Tom Christmas moves to bucolic Thornford Regis, only to discover darkness beneath the surface.

Blotto, Twinks, and the Ex-King's Daughter by Simon Brett.  The start of another series, Blotto (a none-too-bright aristocrat) and Twinks (his brilliant sister) solve a mystery to prevent an international incident between the wars.