When the fifth book in Alan Bradley’s Buckshaw Chronicles, Speaking from Among the Bones, ended with a series cliffhanger I was in tatters. The book’s story arch had been resolved and then Bradley threw a curve ball at the de Luce family.
Bishop’s Lacey is never short of two things: mysteries to solve and pre-adolescent detectives to solve them. In this New York Times bestselling series of cozy mysteries, young chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce once again brings her knowledge of poisons and her indefatigable spirit to solve the most dastardly crimes the English countryside has to offer, and in the process, she comes closer than ever to solving her life’s greatest mystery–her mother’s disappearance. . .
From the publisher, Doubleday Canada
But in all honesty, I’m actually glad Bradley put a spanner in the works. The past year has been ridiculous for Flavia (all five previous books take place during a single year) with someone turning up dead every few months. As enjoyable as the character is, the plots were starting to get a little dull.
I’d devoured books four and five, enjoyed them, but not really felt anything new or exciting about the series. Don’t get me wrong—it was enjoyable and the quality was on par for the series. It was just missing some sort of spark that the first books had when Flavia was still a novelty. But some of the novelty had worn off.
So what was the big cliffhanger?
—MINOR SPOILER WARNING—I will be talking about the cliffhanger from Speaking from Among the Bones.
Flavia’s mother had been found. Harriet de Luce had been missing for more than 10 years after an ice climbing accident in Tibet when Flavia was only an infant. When Speaking from Among the Bones (book five) ended with the father getting a call that Harriet had been found, my first thought was she’d had amnesia and had been living in a small Tibetian village. Unfortunately, The Dead in their Vaulted Arches, opens with Harriet’s body being returned to Buckshaw on a special funerary train. They’d found Harriet’s body.
It had always seemed odd to me that Harriet would go to Tibet when her third child was still in the cradle, but she was depicted as a quite a thrill-seeker. Fortunately, that oddity did not go unattended by Bradley. The Dead in their Vaulted Arches is Flavia touching the tip of the iceberg of highly guarded de Luce family secrets.
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches successfully turns the corner for the character and series of Flavia. Having fully exhausted the 11-year-old chemistry wiz and aspiring detective avenue of the series, Bradley introduces a new trajectory. Half of book six deals with the funeral proceedings following Harriet’s return to Buckshaw, and the other half is Flavia figuring out these unanswered questions and discovering a new path. Suffice to say I am very excited about the next book… whenever it may be. Bradley has stated that there are 10 books in the series and this was book six.