Trapping Father Christmas Nets a Murder

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

#4 A Flavia de Luce Mystery
by Alan Bradley
Narrated by Jayne Entwistle
Genre: Fiction – Mystery & Detective – General
Penguin Random House Audio| Imprint: Random House Audio
Formats available: Paperback, Electronic, Audio
Pub Date: 11/1/11
7 hours 30 minutes

REVIEWER: Sophia Rose

MP3 borrowed through Overdrive from the library. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—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, past midnight, 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 use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.




Christmas at Buckshaw brings a film crew, snowed in and stranded villagers, and a murder for Flavia and the de Luce family. While determining the existence of Father Christmas with one of her chemical experiments, Flavia also hunts down a killer into the exciting past of an aged cinema star.

This pint-sized and precocious detective’s adventurous cases have fast become favorites. I love the setting of 1950’s English country house and village environs, colorful local characters including Flavia’s own slightly eccentric family, and the clever murder mysteries that Flavia stumbles across in her active pursuits. Flavia’s love is chemistry and particularly poisons. She sees things and deduces amazingly well for an eleven-year old, but struggles at times with what goes on in the minds of adults around her.

I love how sharp and intelligent she is juxtaposed beside her loneliness and longing for a normal family instead of the odd and broken one she is part of. Her mother died on a distant adventure and her father has never gotten over it. He retreated into his study and stamp collecting leaving Flavia and her two sisters with stern rules and instruction, but little of the other that a child could expect from a parent.

This latest mystery has Flavia exploring the cinema world, a secretive war-time past, and trying to outwit the local police who do not desire her efforts to work out the murder. But, Flavia being Flavia, she amasses her facts and clues and lands herself in an exciting misadventure. It was not a difficult one to figure out, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Jayne Entwistle is fabulous as the narrator who captures Flavia to perfection and voices all the other characters superbly. She grasps the historical setting in her tone and paces out the story nicely. I am thrilled each time to click on the story and listen to her tell it.

All in all, I would safely say I’m addicted. I know not everyone wants a young girl detective, but I’m pretty sure adults are the target audience. I can definitely recommend them to historical mystery lovers.


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