- Virginia Johnson
Have you met Flavia de Luce? The girl genius/sleuth, whose adventures began with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, finds her young and eventful life in discord after the events of Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd. In the latest mystery, The Grave's a Fine and Private Place, Flavia, her family, and her faithful, brilliant, and PTSD-stricken family retainer Dogger, whilst taking a lengthy boating outing complete with picnic hamper, snag something utterly unlike the fish they hoped to enjoy for dinner. No, indeed, their catch is a young man—or, was a young man—dressed in tights and wearing one red silk slipper.
In a time when pretty manners were still as de rigueur among the upper classes as witty repartee (think The Crown), the de Luce family is relieved that their sensible plaid picnic cloth can serve as a cover for the corpse once they have safely rowed to the riverbank to await the authorities. Yet before they arrive, Miss Flavia has discretely obtained a sample of whatever the deceased last breathed and filches a clue from the dead man's pocket, managing the last before being set upon by a forceful, wailing older woman. Of course, Flavia (and family) must tarry to answer the local constable's questions—and try to solve the case. But this is not their cozy village. Said constable is suspicious. The innkeeper's wife has a book of secrets, and the reliable Dogger is acting peculiarly and not in the usual way he acts peculiarly.
The Grave's a Fine and Private Place (a quote from an Andrew Marvell poem) is set in the same world as the opening season of The Crown. World War II is not many years over. King George has just died. Queen Elizabeth will soon officially be on the throne. It is a time of change in the nation and its fading empire. It is a time of changes, for Flavia, too, as, despite her penchant for near-death escapes, she is growing up into an extraordinary young lady and one to be reckoned with—particularly if the reckoner has a guilty conscience.
Below, the narrator of the Flavia de Luce audiobooks shares her love for the series and a scene (without major spoilers) from an earlier book, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: