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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce Series #4)

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce Series #4)

4.5 68
by Alan Bradley

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Christmas comes early for precocious Flavia de Luce with the arrival of a glamorous London film crew at Buckshaw, her family’s country house, in Agatha-winner Bradley’s fourth post-WWII mystery starring the endearing 11-year-old sleuth (after February 2011’s A Red Herring Without Mustard). Flavia, a chemistry prodigy, must push her previous project—concocting a super stickum to trap Santa—to the back burner after actress Phyllis Wyvern turns up dead in a wingback chair with “a length of ciné film, tied tightly, but neatly, in an elaborate black bow” around her throat. The murder investigation pits the cheeky schoolgirl’s considerable deductive prowess against the local constabulary—and puts her in grave danger. With its sharply drawn characters, including the hiss-worthy older de Luce sisters, and an agreeable puzzle playing out against the cozy backdrop of a British village at Christmas, this is a most welcome holiday gift for Flavia fans. (Nov.)
Library Journal
England's most famous 11-year-old sleuth returns in Bradley's much anticipated fourth novel (after A Red Herring Without Mustard). It is Christmas, and Colonel de Luce, faced with impending bankruptcy, has agreed to rent the family estate out to a British film studio. The whole village is agog with the arrival of Phyllis Wyvern, famous beauty and film star. Flavia, however, is preoccupied with plans of her own. Ophelia and Daphne, her vile older sisters, have told her the shocking news that Father Christmas doesn't exist. Intent on capturing the jolly old elf herself, she turns to her "savage passion for chemistry" for inspiration. But murder and mayhem have a way of following our impish heroine, and soon Flavia is presented with a crime to puzzle out. VERDICT This is a delightful read through and through. We find in Flavia an incorrigible and wholly lovable detective; from her chemical experiments in her sanctum sanctorum to her outrage at the idiocy of the adult world, she is unequaled. Charming as a stand-alone novel and a guaranteed smash with series followers. [See Prepub Alert, 5/2/11.]—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph P.L., MI
Kirkus Reviews
Flavia, the cheeky 11-year-old who knows her way around a sulfurous beaker, is at it again. Determined to prove that there is a Santa Claus, Flavia de Luce retreats to her laboratory in the upper reaches of Buckshaw, the family estate, to concoct a glue that will cement him to the flue should he try to descend on Christmas Eve. While it's steeping, she and her tormentors, her older sisters Feely and Daffy, hear from their father, the Colonel, that financial distress has caused him to rent out Buckshaw to Ilium Films. The company will have free run of the place except for the Colonel's study and his deceased wife Harriet's boudoir. Learning that the fabulous actress Phyllis Wyvern will be in residence, the vicar of Bishop's Lacey pops around to ask if she'll star in a fundraiser for the church. She coaxes her co-star to join her in a scene from Romeo and Juliet to be staged in Buckshaw's foyer. The performance has just finished when a snowstorm strands the villagers at the estate, with no heat, no electricity and no immediate possibility of police intervention. As one might expect, Flavia can deal with it all, even when she finds poor Phyllis dead in the middle of the night, a strip of celluloid tightly wound around her neck. Many of her showbiz colleagues had reason not to like her, from her director to her dresser to her driver. But whodunit? Inspector Hewitt will eventually get through the snow to start his inquiries, but meanwhile Flavia will piece together clues that will lead to the sticky ending she'd planned for Santa. The plot's murderous aspects are on the skimpy side. But who can complain when that serial charmer Flavia (A Red Herring Without Mustard, 2011, etc.) is on hand, wreathed in Tennyson and Shakespeare?
From the Publisher
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 was a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce.”—USA Today

“Delightful . . . [Flavia is] a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes. . . . Fearless, cheeky, wildly precocious.”—The Boston Globe, on The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
 “Utterly beguiling . . . wicked wit . . . The real delight here is [Flavia’s] droll voice and the eccentric cast.”—People (four stars), on The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
“Outstanding . . . [a] marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on A Red Herring Without Mustard

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Flavia de Luce Series , #4
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.13(d)
930L (what's this?)

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 second and third Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag and the New York Times bestselling A Red Herring Without Mustard. Bradley lives in Malta with his wife and two calculating cats.

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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Denise_P More than 1 year ago
It's Christmastime at Buckshaw and Flavia devises a plan to check Father Christmas in the act. But as the house fills up with a movie crew she has other things on her mind as well. The movie crew arrives at Buckshaw after Colonel de Luce lets them tape there in exchange for money (their money situation is still dire). Flavia becomes fast friends with the star of the movie, Phyllis Wyvern. When someone from the movie crew is suddenly murdered Flavia investigates the murder. During her investigation of the murder and her plot to catch Father Christmas Flavia finds herself in danger, will this Christmas be her last? This is by far my favorite book of the Flavia de Luce series. Just when I thought I couldn't like Flavia any more than I do, she turns up even more precocious and loveable as ever. I loved her devised plan to catch Father Christmas, and all through the book it felt like it was Flavia and me plotting together. Flavia is like the little sister I never had but always wanted. I would recommend this book to people who have read and enjoyed the other Flavia de Luce books and enjoyed them. This is even a good read for those who haven't read the other books.
RheaT More than 1 year ago
My only regret, in having read this book, is that I have to wait another year for the fifth book in the series to be published. Flavia is the hero of my inner child, and her story is told so well by the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredibly creative writing. Great storyline. I love Flavia De Luce.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Throughout reading this amazing book, I was always captured by the unexpected twists and turns of the novel, the beautiful figurative language used, and, of course, the clever mind of Flavia de Luce. I read this book in merely a few days, because I always dreaded the moment when I would have to put it down. I was eager to turn each page, and immersed in Flavia's life of murder, poisons, and the occasional wise words of her friend Dogger. You don't even have to read the other books before it, it will still come off as spectacular. If you are looking for an amazing, captivating mystery, look no further. This novel, by the incredibly talented author Alan Bradley, has it all. Enjoy!
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
A Christmas return to Buckshaw and the life of Flavia de Luce is welcome indeed! A film crew has descended on Buckshaw to make a movie and help defray the costs of running the estate. Over half of Bishop's Lacey makes the trek out for a holiday benefit concert (that church needs a lot of work), only to be snowed in during the subsequent blizzard. Of course, a body is discovered and with no where to run, all are suspects in this story. Her trusty bike in storage for the winter, Flavia must make do with the hidey holes at Buckshaw to ferret out information. Although it has a familiar feel, the story is fun as always. Flavia is such a great character, kicked out the Girl Guides, she's a total cross between Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy and Miss Marple. This book would stand alone alright if you're new to the de Luce clan, but you're shorting yourself if you don't read them all.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Film Crew at Christmas Means Murder Had I realized that the fourth Flavia de Luce novel was set around Christmas, I would have crammed it into last year in an effort to listen to it at Christmas time. The next best thing was to listen to I Am Half-Sick of Shadows in January while Christmas was still fresh in my mind. As this book opens, it is the week before Christmas, and a film crew is arriving at Buckshaw, the de Luce family mansion. They are going to be filming a movie starring Phyllis Wyvern, a huge movie star. Flavia’s father has done this in order to bring in much needed money to pay off the taxes owed on the estate. Unfortunately, this does mean a quieter Christmas this year since any decorations would get in the way of the filming of the movie. Still, Flavia has one thing on her mind, the sticky substance she’s been brewing in her laboratory in order to catch Father Christmas on their roof and prove once and for all if he exists or not. As time marches toward Christmas, the snow begins to fall, but that doesn’t keep much of the village from coming to Buckshaw for a performance put on by Phyllis to raise money for the parish roof. Unfortunately, the storm is bad enough that it traps everyone in the mansion, and that night someone is murdered. With all the suspects in her own home, can Flavia figure out who the killer is? With this being winter, certain elements of the series like Flavia riding her trusty bike, Gladys, all over the countryside aren’t to be found. We do get to see all the regulars plus a face from the second book. Unfortunately, the mystery was very slow to get started. We’re almost half way through the book before the murder takes places, and only some of the story time before that was truly setting up suspects. Once the murder takes place, the action does pick up considerably. There are some good twists and revelations on the way to the end. In the last book, Flavia was annoying me, mainly because she was acting her age. I’m glad to say that she was much better behaved in this book. We came close to getting some much needed character development for her two older sisters, and I hope that comes in the next book. I’m ready for their relationship to evolve. The rest of the cast continued to be strong no matter how big or small their part was in the overall book. While the Christmas atmosphere isn’t on every page, I did enjoy it when it came into play in the story. There is plenty of it to make reading this book in December an added joy. I just didn’t want to wait that long since I had just missed Christmas. What I find interesting is how the author keeps working the time period into these books. Flavia may live in a small village, but the two wars that had been fought recently continue to influence her world. Being eleven, she probably doesn’t completely understand everything that had happened, but it is interesting to the adult audience of the books. Which is why I wish the plotting were stronger in the series. The characters are charming and the setting is wonderful, but the slow plot keeps me from completely recommending I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Flavia de Luce series! I can't wait to read the next installment!
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
Another great murder mystery solved by chemical deductions in the mind of young Flavia de Luce! This series contains some of the best mysteries for modern-written books. Read this one in December if you won't mind a little murder with your Christmas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite Flavia De Luce book. It is full of interesting characters and Flavia is at her best. Highly recommended and would make a lovely gift for a reader of any age. The hardback is adorable!
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HayRed More than 1 year ago
The entire series is excellent. It's a true who-done-it that makes British mysteries so enjoyable. A funny heroine with a good mind who untangles the craziest of murders. I love every minute!
ohio-child More than 1 year ago
This is the second book about Flavia that I have had the good fortune to find. Her character is engaging. The chemistry trivia is an added plus. If you are looking for a new series I highly recommend this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CaptureS misty
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gets some of her rage out and pads back
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grabbed Misty's scruff and slapped her in a cage. "Listen up, Omega!" She snarled. "Shadowstalker will treat to your wounds after we hurt you." She took the pup to the first result. <p> Shadow gagged but followed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With her trusty bike to guide her and her cinderellaesk sisters to spurn her on Flavia falls into a murder case during christmas and this one once again cuts close to home and loved ones. So taking to her sanctum lab and using her quick wit and keen observation Flavia rallys to save St. Nick while whipping up hilarious potions in her lab! Well done series makes you laugh and truly feel the london after world war two.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! The whole series is great!
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