Precocious, chemistry-loving and murder-solving Flavia de Luce is given another treat in her latest outing: a new murder to solve. This time, she and her sisters are trying to adjust to life without their father, and their beloved longtime servant Dogger takes them on a summertime boat trip down a river. Dogger, knowing Flavia well, rows them past a country church where a triple murder occurred a couple of years earlier, and, lo and behold, another occurs. In fact, Flavia “catches” the dead man by the mouth when she trails her hand in the water.
In this Book, Flavia and Dogger both do investigative work: Dogger, as is his way, quietly but surely and smartly being of support to Flavia, and even surprising her at times with his wealth of knowledge. Flavia has to adjust her work and observations a bit since she’s not at home with her chemistry lab at her disposal, and she wisely (as always) insinuates herself into the good graces of new characters she hasn’t met before, whether they’re village residents at large or the local constable who has as yet no knowledge of her interest in crime.
This book is a bit of a breather, relatively speaking, after some of the changes and tragedies of some previous books; Flavia’s on vacation, and so is the reader. It also necessarily marks and introduces a turning point in Flavia’s situation, since her parents are both gone and she officially owns the old estate. As always, the book is a murder mystery, but the whodunit is far less important than how Flavia solves it, and what she says along the way to make the reader chuckle. Never a disappointment.
Rated: Mild. There’s really no language to speak of, and gruesomeness is fairly minimal. There are mild allusions to affairs that mostly go over Flavia’s head.