Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I recently heard a book referred to as a cozy mystery, and I think this is another one. The sleuth/heroine is sort of a young Nancy Drew with attitude. (The hardback version even has a similar type of cover with no dust jacket.) There's not much emotional chemistry among the members of the de Luce family, but eleven-year-old Flavia is into chemistry of the scientific variety. When an almost dead body turns up in their estate's garden, she can smell carbon tetrachloride on his dying breath. Constantly underestimated, Flavia solves the murder before the police do but after her father has been arrested for it. She uses common sense and keen observation to reconstruct the crime, using to best advantage her ability to solicit information from adults by feigning innocence. She's no goody-too-shoes, though, mixing her older sister's lipstick with poison ivy extract and eagerly awaiting the results. OK, this is pretty tame mischief, but that's what makes it cozy, right? She's also not above a little clandestine snooping and pilfering, or the occasional lie in the name of righteousness or self-preservation. This is a nice break from heavy literature, but don't expect too much, and perhaps you'll be entertained. I'm not sure if this book is targeted for young readers, but it certainly seemed that way to me. Let's hope they don't get any ideas about contaminating Mom's cosmetics when this book inspires them to pay more attention in chemistry class.

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