Speaking from Among the Bones

Speaking from Among the Bones

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily pr...

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Title:Speaking from Among the Bones
Author:Alan Bradley
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Edition Language:English

Speaking from Among the Bones Reviews

  • Kathy

    Flavia de Luce continues to be one of my favorite characters in all my reading. She is a genius in her chemical meanderings and in her skill of detection, but we are often reminded that she is still indeed a child, not yet twelve. This latest entertaining tale centers around the disinterment of a saint's bones, St. Tancred, who was laid to rest in Bishop's Lacey in the church bearing his name. Hidden passages, a powerful diamond, and a dead choir master all become a part of the mystery which Fla

    Flavia de Luce continues to be one of my favorite characters in all my reading. She is a genius in her chemical meanderings and in her skill of detection, but we are often reminded that she is still indeed a child, not yet twelve. This latest entertaining tale centers around the disinterment of a saint's bones, St. Tancred, who was laid to rest in Bishop's Lacey in the church bearing his name. Hidden passages, a powerful diamond, and a dead choir master all become a part of the mystery which Flavia takes upon herself to untangle. Along the way, she uncovers some interesting secrets of her mother's, whose shortened life Flavia has had to piece together herself over the years of silence from the rest of her family. Of course, Flavia's adventures are never without danger to her, and, yet, she faces danger and fear with the good sense and balance she does her life. In every marvelous book in this series, I keep wishing for 3 things for Flavia--1) good food to eat, rather than the apparent swill served by Mrs. Mullett 2) someone to love Flavia in the role of a parent and treasure her for the gem that she is 3) the financial woes of Buckshaw to disappear, leaving Flavia secure in the home she so loves. Alan Bradley has created a character and a series that will become stamped upon your heart. The wonderfully absurd titles of these enchanting books are also part of the magic.

  • Kevin

    The best! A couple of my favorite quotes from this book:

    “Was sorrow, in the end, a private thing? A closed container? Something that, like a bucket of water, could be borne only on a single pair of shoulders?"

    “I was learning that the best conversations consisted of keeping quiet and listening, and speaking, when one spoke at all, in words of a single syllable.”

    "I was the eighth dwarf. Sneaky."

    “Could it be that goodness waxes and wanes like the moon, and that only evil is constant?”

    “There's an

    The best! A couple of my favorite quotes from this book:

    “Was sorrow, in the end, a private thing? A closed container? Something that, like a bucket of water, could be borne only on a single pair of shoulders?"

    “I was learning that the best conversations consisted of keeping quiet and listening, and speaking, when one spoke at all, in words of a single syllable.”

    "I was the eighth dwarf. Sneaky."

    “Could it be that goodness waxes and wanes like the moon, and that only evil is constant?”

    “There's an unwritten law of the universe which assures that the thing you seek will always be found in the last place you look. It applies to everything in life from lost socks to misplaced poisons.”

    “It was one of those glorious days in March when the air was so fresh that you worshipped every whiff of it; that each breath of the intoxicating stuff created such new universes in your lungs and brain you were certain you were about to explode with sheer joy; one of those blustery days of scudding clouds and piddling showers and gum boots and wind-blown brollies that made you know you were truly alive.”

    I honestly can think of no other character in fiction I appreciate, even adore as much as Flavia de Luce. Long live Flavia, and long live this series! Truly outstanding in every way! I savored this one from start to finish. Start this series with "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie."

  • Miranda

    Ahhhhhhh!!!!! Really?!?! How long do we have to wait to find out what that means?

    That was my first reaction to the last line of the book. The Flavia books are quickly becoming some of my favorites of all time, and the series is definitely at the top of my list. The tangle of mystery, murder, and normal family life make these a great read for all ages.

  • Tiffy

    Loved this one as much as I did the previous four. Flavia's up to it again and she's a force to be reckoned with in this novel. Can't wait to read the next.

  • Leslie

    Wow! I admit I wasn't expecting much with this latest installment of my very favorite mystery series. Not because it hasn't alway been wonderful, but because I've never read a series that kept on being wonderful so long. This one was most excellent. I have just closed the book and must tell you that the last sentence caused me to leap off the couch, throw off my snuggy in the most unladylike fashion and shriek and hoop and holler. What a surprise! I had been wondering about "it" since the first

    Wow! I admit I wasn't expecting much with this latest installment of my very favorite mystery series. Not because it hasn't alway been wonderful, but because I've never read a series that kept on being wonderful so long. This one was most excellent. I have just closed the book and must tell you that the last sentence caused me to leap off the couch, throw off my snuggy in the most unladylike fashion and shriek and hoop and holler. What a surprise! I had been wondering about "it" since the first book and now this. But wait, it was not exactly explained, just dropped on ya like a mind blowing bomb. Now I am positively TORTURED at the realization that I shall have to wait God only knows how long for the next one. Oh, someone sedate me till then.

  • Crowinator

    Near the end of

    , Inspector Hewitt visits Flavia in the Buckshaw drawing room after she’s nosy-parkered her way, again, into solving the latest murder:

    What follows is my favorite part of the book, where Flavia gleefully does the wra

    Near the end of

    , Inspector Hewitt visits Flavia in the Buckshaw drawing room after she’s nosy-parkered her way, again, into solving the latest murder:

    What follows is my favorite part of the book, where Flavia gleefully does the wrap-up in her “humble, jolly-girl-well-met kind of voice” (that does not fool anyone in the slightest), while the exasperated but fond Inspector takes notes and tries to delicately balance himself between being supportive of her intellect and disapproving of her wild lack of self-preservation.

    Something about their relationship breaks my heart (on Flavia’s end at least). I find myself reading between the lines every time they are together, hunting for Inspector Hewitt’s true thoughts, suffusing his character with emotional nuances that Flavia fails to pick up but that I’m sure are there. Flavia needs a hero in her life, someone to look up to, who will indulge her but also impose limits – how much is Inspector Hewitt investing in being that person? Because we only see him from her point of view, and because she finds him so inscrutable, I’m not sure we’ll ever know – but watching them develop as a pair is one of the best parts of this series. And this stuff is even better with the addition of his wife Antigone, who seems to recognize Flavia’s lonely little-girl-crush for what it is and is so, so kind about it.

    The man is fighting a losing battle, of course. Even when he goes out on a limb and explicitly tells her not to put herself in danger, she isn’t hearing it. After he tells her to remember there are dangerous killers on the loose, she practically swoons with excitement:

    Where would we be if the amateur detectives of the world decided things were getting to dangerous and they’d better stay in for the night?

    Flavia is under an inordinate amount of stress in this installment. Her sister is getting married, marking her passage out of Flavia’s life as far as she’s concerned, and Flavia is just starting to realize she doesn’t want her to go. Her family’s money troubles have come to a head and Buckshaw is actually For Sale. Another huge part of her life she is on the verge of losing (including her laboratory!). Her father seems even more like a ghost, like a defeated man. All of this probably accounts for the more melancholy tone in this novel; even though Flavia’s humorous narrative is still whip-smart and the characters are all crazy-quirky, Flavia’s worries are starting to eclipse her optimism and disrupt the natural order of things.

    Naturally, the murder she has to solve provides her distraction – during the opening of Saint Tancred’s tomb on the 500-year anniversary of his death, to which Flavia has inserted herself without permission, she discovers not an uncorrupted saint’s body but a murdered church organist-- but even though it makes up the bulk of the story, it’s not THE story. (And to be honest, I found it a little hard to follow, what with the inclusion of a mysterious holy artifact, two other amateur detectives Flavia must contend with, Flavia’s side obsession with testing everybody’s blood, and a whole host of new-ish Bishop’s Lacey characters whose tangled histories intersect way too much with the case. I really needed that wrap-up at the end.) THE story, for me at least, is Flavia’s search to belong somewhere, even in her own family, her own village. And her then insistence that she be recognized and given credit for it.

    As bad as things get, she is still irrepressible in her demand for attention. After her wrap-up, when everybody gets up and Inspector Hewitt casually and somewhat dismissively thanks her for her time, she wonders:

    “Where are the trumpets?”

    And that is the best thing about her.

    *Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this e-ARC*

  • Richard Derus

    Rating: 3.9* of five

    : Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the

    Rating: 3.9* of five

    : Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.

    : The ending threw me a curve.

    The middle was a busy muddle.

    The beginning was a laugh a minute.

    And I enjoyed it all. I didn't know who the murderer was, and when revealed I was a bit surprised I hadn't thought of that. I was mildly ticked that, at the ending of the book after the murderer was disposed of, a loose end wasn't tucked tidily away but rather left to be part of the cliffhanger resolution. If Mr. Bradley should happen to pass into his Eternal Reward before the next book is completed and edited, I shall engage every root woman and witch doctor and psychic and spiritualist I can locate to hound the rotter into spirit-writing it.

    So, since I'm usually a tartar about judging cozies, demanding the characters and the plot mesh, why am I still reading these somewhat ramshackle novels? After all, the murderer's identity isn't at all well set up, and the red herrings are ummm far-fetched, and the propulsive event is barely, barely set up and then ignored.

    Yeah, well, cozies are about characters and about a species of

    maintenance, and these novels deliver all the pleasures of those qualities in spades, doubled. Bradley's quite improbable little genius Flavia de Luce is a pill of the first water, a know-it-all, and a little girl on the edge of some enormous growings-up that all of us who've passed through adolescence can empathize with. Her passive, defeated father, her cruel sisters, her delightful world of Buckshaw with its fully equipped chemistry lab and its decaying splendor, and the people of Bishop's Lacey, all mix together into an immersive Barsetshire-esque experience of enfolding charm and warmth.

    This is the fifth book, don't begin here if you're picking up a new series as too much will be a spoiler for some payoff surprises in earlier books. But should you pick up the series at all? Hmmm. Don't, if you're a puzzle-solver; don't, if you have to have a sleuth whose abilities and access are believable; do, if you're after the aforementioned immersive experience.

    But, if you do read the book, I defy you not to laugh at the fate of the Heart of Lucifer.

    This work is licensed under a

    .

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    When they decide to open the crypt of St. Tancred on the 500th anniversary of his death no one is more excited than Flavia de Luce. She is hoping for something gross, terri

    When they decide to open the crypt of St. Tancred on the 500th anniversary of his death no one is more excited than Flavia de Luce. She is hoping for something gross, terrifying, and of scientific interest to be revealed when the bones of the saint are brought into the light of day.

    She gets more than even she could bargain for.

    After worming her way into a position to see first... what there is to be seen... she is greeted by the grotesque, swollen, masked body of the once swoon worthy organist for the church. Mr. Collicott has met a most unfortunate end. The unexplained will soon be explainable as the precocious amateur detective Flavia begins to investigate.

    A mysterious puddle of blood in the church will have to be investigated using the microscope her strange, but venerated Great-Uncle, Tarquin de Luce, bought for the laboratory he had installed in the family home at Buckshaw. The lab is Flavia’s home within her home. Luckily she has one hair ribbon, that hasn’t been lost, that she can dip into the blood and take a sample of the fluid home. She is a scientist first and a...shuddering... yuck exclaiming... young woman second.

    She became interested in blood when her two sisters Daphne (Daffy) and Ophelia (Feely) began insisting that she was adopted. Getting blood samples from her two sisters, through rather devious means, was the first step in proving to herself that her sisters were her sisters though at times it was tempting to start believing she wasn’t related to such creatures.

    Flavia’s real love is poison. Yes, many wonderful dreams have been spun from her love of poison and her wish, at times, to use it.

    She isn’t the only amateur detective in town. A man interested in the 500 year old flower seeds from Tancred’s tomb has also shown an interest in more than just flora-archaeology. She noticed the tagline…

    on his business card. He can’t fool her!

    Bishop’s Lacey is her English hamlet of doom, soon to rival Cabot Cove for it’s collection of untimely and nefarious deaths. She must continue to dodge the police who are always trying to keep her contained, and take more chances if she is going to solve the murder before her rival.

    The science that Alan Bradley sprinkles liberally throughout the plot adds another level to Flavia’s investigations. It is so interesting to see science taken from the textbook and applied in such useful ways. Flavia by reading and applying that knowledge to experimentation and further observation gives herself the tools to see solutions in dust and cobwebs that would simply be useless to the rest of us. Whether she is trapped in a deep grave, locked in a room, or merely evading detection she has a head full of Macgyveresque answers that will help her prevail.

    This is my fifth adventure with Flavia and my enjoyment of the series deepens with each new installment. I’m surprised at the witty, laugh out loud, fresh situations that Bradley continues to create for his audacious creation. Originally there were only supposed to be six books in the series, but it was recently announced that there will be ten. Sam Mendes has optioned the series for TV, but don’t say... “I’ll just wait for the television show”. Chances are, of course, they are going to muck it all up, so pick up the first book, read them in order (though they are written to each stand alone), and at the end of this one you are going to have a similar reaction that I had…

  • Carolyn

    I do love Flavia de Luce! Such a plucky, fearless eleven-nearly twelve year old who loves nothing better than reading criminology texts and brewing up poisons in the chemistry laboratory inherited from her Uncle Tar. Living in the early 1950s, Flavia is mostly left to her own devices by her eccentric family of mean older sisters and disengaged father, who has never got over his wife's death ten years earlier, Flavia has the run of their dilapidated stately home and the local countryside on her b

    I do love Flavia de Luce! Such a plucky, fearless eleven-nearly twelve year old who loves nothing better than reading criminology texts and brewing up poisons in the chemistry laboratory inherited from her Uncle Tar. Living in the early 1950s, Flavia is mostly left to her own devices by her eccentric family of mean older sisters and disengaged father, who has never got over his wife's death ten years earlier, Flavia has the run of their dilapidated stately home and the local countryside on her bicycle and a knack for finding dead bodies.

    In this episode, Flavia is distracted from inventing new poisons (which she dreams of using on her sisters) by the news that the tomb of the local saint, Saint Tancred, is be be disinterred on the 500th anniversary of his death. As the Vicar is a particular friend of hers she wastes no time in heading for the church in Bishop's Lacey. Not unexpectedly, there is a murder in the church and a dastardly plot involving Saint Tancred's tomb to be solved.

    The joy in these books is not so much the murder mystery but Flavia's spirited and inventive interactions with her sisters, father, Dogger, her father's valet/gardener (and ex-army mate), the Vicar, police Inspector Hewitt (and his elegant wife, Antigone) as well as a new friend - Adam Sowerby, a botanist who collects ancient seeds and shares Flavia's interest in solving crimes. Outside of boarding school, Flavia seems to have few friends her own age but the grown-ups all seem to treat her as an undersized but intelligent adult. The plot and discourse are infused with wry British humour which makes the mystery a lot of fun.

  • Magill

    It has been over a year since reading the previous Flavia book, so I thought that my reactions would be less likely to be tainted by prior annoyance. I think that was the case but, frankly, this book did not rise above the others.

    The book seemed even more disjointed than the previous books, as best as I could recall. The plot had many little episodes which didn't seem to fit together, even Flavia's thoughts were distracted and less focused (the ribbon situation, for example). Characters were int

    It has been over a year since reading the previous Flavia book, so I thought that my reactions would be less likely to be tainted by prior annoyance. I think that was the case but, frankly, this book did not rise above the others.

    The book seemed even more disjointed than the previous books, as best as I could recall. The plot had many little episodes which didn't seem to fit together, even Flavia's thoughts were distracted and less focused (the ribbon situation, for example). Characters were introduced, like Adam, who seemed merely a way to provide Flavia with what information she could not have deduced herself, rather than as a whole character. Inspector Hewitt was barely present until the very latter part of the book. And given that some of her observations were not noted in the book (try find the reference to thumbs and wrists when she meets Jocelyn, not) and the solution came to her in a dream... well... Then those little emotional ... vignettes ... with her sisters, seemed to come up out of the blue and disappear there, their solidarity no more understandable than their enmity.

    But I am looking forward to finding out what happened to Harriet, and it looks like that is going to be resolved, so I will soldier on.

    Final note, given that this is the 5th book and Flavia is still 11 - this seems as dangerous a locale as Three Pines in Louise Penny's books - and a lot of deaths piling up in under a year.

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