The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce Series #6)

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce Series #6)

4.3 39
by Alan Bradley
     
 

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train’s arrival in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger whoSee more details below

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train’s arrival in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear. Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself. Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office—and making spectacular use of Harriet’s beloved Gipsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit—Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Alan Bradley's As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.

Praise for The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
 
“Part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Flavia is a pert and macabre pragmatist.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Alan] Bradley’s award winning Flavia de Luce series . . . has enchanted readers with the outrageous sleuthing career of its precocious leading lady. . . . This latest adventure contains all the winning elements of the previous books.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce novel reaches a new level of perfection as it shows the emotional turmoil and growth of a girl who has always been older than her years and yet is still a child. The mystery is complex and very personal this time, reaching into the past Flavia never knew about. . . . These are astounding, magical books not to be missed.”RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
 
“Excellent . . . Flavia retains her droll wit. . . . The solution to a murder is typically neat, and the conclusion sets up future books nicely.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“It’s hard to resist either the genre’s pre-eminent preteen sleuth or the hushed revelations about her family.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“Flavia . . . is as fetching as ever; her chatty musings and her combination of childish vulnerability and seemingly boundless self-confidence haven’t changed a bit.”Booklist
 
Acclaim for Alan Bradley’s beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award
 
“If ever there were a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce.”USA Today
 
“Irresistibly appealing.”—The New York Times Book Review, on A Red Herring Without Mustard
 
“Original, charming, devilishly creative.”—Bookreporter, on I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
 
“Delightful and entertaining.”San Jose Mercury News, on Speaking from Among the Bones

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
Bradley's award-winning Flavia de Luce series (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows; Speaking from Among the Bones) has enchanted readers with the outrageous sleuthing career of its precocious leading lady. In this sixth installment, Bradley focuses solely on the inner workings of the de Luce family and, more specifically, on the mysterious demise of Flavia's mother, Harriet. The novel opens in 1951 with Harriet's body being brought home for burial. This is no ordinary funeral, however, for all the important players in His Majesty's government have mysteriously come out to Buckshaw to pay their respects. It isn't long before murder and espionage take center stage, as does the chemical prowess of the 12-year-old protagonist. VERDICT This latest adventure contains all the winning elements of the previous books while skillfully establishing a new and intriguing story line to explore in future novels. The introduction of the outrageously obnoxious cousin Undine will be a treat for readers, who will also relish long-awaited answers to mysteries surrounding Flavia's family. Fans will be more than pleased, and it makes an excellent suggestion for fans of M.C. Beaton and Elizabeth Peters. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/13. Picked as the January 2014 Library Reads favorite title, p. 151.—Ed.]—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph, MI
Publishers Weekly
★ 10/28/2013
The mystery is personal for Flavia de Luce in Bradley’s excellent sixth novel featuring the precocious 11-year-old sleuth in post-WWII England (after 2013’s Speaking from Among the Bones). The body of Harriet de Luce, her mother who disappeared in a mountaineering accident when Flavia was about a year old, has finally been recovered, and has been transported to the family home in Bishop’s Lacey for burial. As if that news wasn’t dramatic enough, Flavia is dumbfounded when she finds that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill is on hand for the coffin’s arrival at the railway station, and baffled when a stranger accosts her with a message for her father that “the Gamekeeper is in jeopardy.” Confusion turns to horror when the messenger falls, or is pushed, beneath the wheels of the funeral train. Despite the turmoil of these developments, Flavia retains her droll wit (showing off her encyclopedic knowledge of chemistry, she notes, “Metol, of course, was nothing more than a fancy name for plain old Monomethylparaminophenol Sulfate”). The solution to a murder is typically neat, and the conclusion sets up future books nicely. Agent: Denise Bukowski, Bukowski Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
 
“Part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Flavia is a pert and macabre pragmatist.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Alan] Bradley’s award winning Flavia de Luce series . . . has enchanted readers with the outrageous sleuthing career of its precocious leading lady. . . . This latest adventure contains all the winning elements of the previous books.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce novel reaches a new level of perfection as it shows the emotional turmoil and growth of a girl who has always been older than her years and yet is still a child. The mystery is complex and very personal this time, reaching into the past Flavia never knew about. . . . These are astounding, magical books not to be missed.”RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
 
“Excellent . . . Flavia retains her droll wit. . . . The solution to a murder is typically neat, and the conclusion sets up future books nicely.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“It’s hard to resist either the genre’s pre-eminent preteen sleuth or the hushed revelations about her family.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“Flavia . . . is as fetching as ever; her chatty musings and her combination of childish vulnerability and seemingly boundless self-confidence haven’t changed a bit.”Booklist

Acclaim for Alan Bradley’s beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award
 
“If ever there were a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce.”USA Today
 
“Irresistibly appealing.”—The New York Times Book Review, on A Red Herring Without Mustard
 
“Original, charming, devilishly creative.”—Bookreporter, on I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
 
“Delightful and entertaining.”San Jose Mercury News, on Speaking from Among the Bones

Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-15
Poisoning prodigy Flavia de Luce's sixth brush with murder carries her back to the most consequential death of all: that of her long-missing mother, Harriet, whose returning corpse is promptly joined by another, fresher specimen. Harriet de Luce's three daughters have always been told that their mother vanished from the Himalayas back in 1941. Now her body has been recovered from a glacier after 10 years and returned to them. As she waits for Harriet's coffin to be unloaded from the train bringing it home to Bishop's Lacey, Flavia is accosted first by Winston Churchill, who asks if she too has developed a taste for pheasant sandwiches, and then by a stranger who passes on an even more cryptic warning about the Gamekeeper and the Nide. The former prime minister retreats in good order, but someone pushes the stranger under the wheels of the departing train. His death would be just the excuse Flavia needs for her latest murder investigation (Speaking from Among the Bones, 2013, etc.) if she didn't have a bigger job to tackle: alleviating her father's sadness by using a cocktail of forbidden chemicals to reanimate her mother's corpse. The resulting adventures will cast new light on both Harriet de Luce and several lesser relatives; identify the mysterious American clerk who was photographed in 1939 in a room in the family home that had been shut up for 10 years; and finally send Flavia off to pastures new, presumably to spread her unique combination of precocious charm and alarming initiative within a wider field than Bishop's Lacey. Not much mystery and even less poison, but it's hard to resist either the genre's pre-eminent preteen sleuth or the hushed revelations about her family.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345539694
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/14/2014
Series:
Flavia de Luce Series , #6
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
23,506
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Alan Bradley is the internationally bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Winn Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, and Speaking from Among the Bones.

Read an Excerpt

•One•

To begin with, it was a perfect English morning: one of those dazzling days in early April when a new sun makes it seem suddenly like full-blown summer.

Sunshine broke through the fat white dumplings of the clouds, sending shadows chasing one another playfully across the green fields and up into the gently rolling hills. Somewhere in the woods on the other side of the railway line, a nightingale was singing.

“It’s like a colored plate from Wordsworth,” my sister Daphne said, almost to herself. “Far too picturesque.”

Ophelia, my oldest sister, was a still, pale, silent shadow, lost in her own thoughts.

At the appointed time, which happened to be ten o’clock, we were all of us gathered more or less together on the little railway platform at Buckshaw Halt. I think it was the first time in my life I had ever seen Daffy without a book in her hand.

Father, who stood a bit apart from us, kept glancing every few minutes at his wristwatch and looking along the track, eyes squinting, watching for smoke in the distance.

Directly behind him stood Dogger. How odd it was to see these two men—gentleman and servant—who had been through such ghastly times together, standing dressed in their Sunday best at an abandoned country railway station.

Although Buckshaw Halt had once been used to bring both goods and guests to the great house, and although the rails remained, the station proper, with its weathered bricks, had been boarded up for donkey’s years.

In the past few days, though, it had been hurriedly made ready for Harriet’s homecoming: swept out and tidied up, its broken windowpanes replaced, the tiny flower bed weeded and planted with a small riot of flowers.

Father had been asked to go up to London and ride with her back to Buckshaw, but he had insisted on being at the little station at Buckshaw Halt to meet the train. It was, after all, he had explained to the vicar, the place and manner in which he had first met her all those many years ago when both of them were young.

As we waited, I noticed that Father’s boots had been polished to a high-gloss perfection, from which I deduced that Dogger was currently in a much improved state. There were times when Dogger screamed and whimpered in the night, huddled in the corner of his tiny bedroom, visited by the ghosts of far-off prisons, tormented by the devils of the past. At all other times he was as competent as any human is capable of being, and I sent up thanks that this morning was one of them.

Never had we needed him more.

Here and there on the platform, small, tight knots of villagers, keeping a respectful distance, talked quietly to one another, preserving our privacy. More than a few of them stood huddled closely round Mrs. Mullet, our cook, and her husband, Alf, as if doing so made them, by some magic, part of the immediate household.

As ten o’clock approached, everyone, as if at an arranged signal, fell suddenly quiet, and an unearthly hush settled upon the countryside. It was as though a bell jar had been lowered upon the land and all the world was holding its breath. Even the nightingale in the woods had abruptly ceased its song.

The very air on the station platform was now electric, as it often becomes when a train is approaching but not yet in sight.

People shifted uneasily from foot to foot, and the faint wind of our collective breathing made a soft sigh on the gentle English air.

And then, finally, after what seemed like an eternal stillness, we saw in the distance the smoke from the engine.

Nearer and nearer it came, bringing Harriet—bringing my mother—home.

The breath seemed sucked from my lungs as the gleaming engine panted into the station and squealed to a stop at the edge of the platform.

It was not a long train: not more than an engine and half a dozen carriages, and it sat resting for a few moments in the importance of its own swirling steam. There was an odd little lull.

Then a guard stepped down from the rear carriage and blew three sharp blasts on a whistle.

Doors opened, and the platform was suddenly swarming with men in uniform: military men with a dazzling array of full medals and clipped mustaches.

They formed up quickly into two columns and stood stiffly at attention.

A tall, tanned man I took to be their leader, his chest a wall of decorations and colored ribbons, marched smartly to where Father stood and brought his arm up in a sharp salute that left his hand vibrating like a tuning fork.

Although he seemed in a daze, Father managed a nod.

From the remaining carriages poured a horde of men in black suits and bowler hats carrying walking sticks and furled umbrellas. Among them were a handful of women in severe suits, hats, and gloves; a few, even, were in uniform. One of these, a fit but forbidding woman in RAF colors, looked such a Tartar and had so many stripes on her sleeve that she might have been an Air Vice-Marshal. This little station at Buckshaw Halt, I thought, in all of its long history, had never before been so packed with such an assortment of humanity.

To my surprise, one of the suited women turned out to be Father’s sister, Aunt Felicity. She hugged Feely, hugged Daffy, hugged me, and then without a word took up her station beside Father.

At an order, the two columns marched smartly towards the head of the train, as the large door in the luggage van slid open.

It was difficult, in the bright daylight, to make out anything in the dim depths of the van’s interior. All I could see at first was what seemed to be a dozen white gloves dancing suspended in the darkness.

And then gently, almost tenderly, a wooden box was handed out to the double column of waiting men, who shouldered it and stood motionless for a moment, like wooden soldiers staring straight ahead into the sunshine.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the thing.

It was a coffin which, once clear of the shadows of the luggage van, gleamed cruelly in the harsh sunlight.

In it was Harriet. Harriet.

My mother.

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