Monday, January 23, 2017

Mystery Monday: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd


Title: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
Author: Alan Bradley; read by Jayne Entwistle
Publisher: Books on Tape, 2016. Original by Delacourt Press, 331 pages
Source: Library digital services

Publisher's Summary:
In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.
My Review:
Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce  books remain one of my favorite series, and I particularly enjoy listening to them as read by Ms. Entwistle. Despite the age of the heroine, these are not children's books, but fully-developed mysteries for the discerning adult. Since the blurb doesn't indicate, I will note that they are set in the 1950s.

In this book, I  found myself not enjoying matters as much as usual, perhaps because Flavia's family situation was both dire and often ignored. It certainly lent and air of gathering doom, and perhaps this wasn't just the best time for me to be wallowing in that. Nonetheless, the mystery is unusual and well put together (though I put a few things together long before Flavia or anyone else, with my advantage of knowing that things are apt to fit together in a book just a little better than they do in real life).

Chemistry didn't play as large a role in this book as in some--Flavia is an accomplished chemist (hard to say, though, if she's as accomplished as she thinks she is). I do love that she is so very unconventional in that way, and gets real pleasure and comfort from turning to her lab.

This is a book where it is hard to discuss my reactions without including spoilers, so I will just say that while it was as well-written as any, I hated the ending, which, alas, I saw coming.

My Recommendation: 
Absolutely if you are reading the series, get this book. And if you are not reading the series, get hold of the first one (The Sweetness in the Bottom of the Pie), and start now. Read them in order, from the beginning. And if you like audio books at all, feel free to listen to them, because the recordings are good.  (I notice, looking back at the first one I reviewed, which was Book 4, that I have not always been raving about the books. But as a series...yeah, I think it's fantastic, and despite the challenges this book presents, getting better).

FTC Disclosure: I checked Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 


  1. I must admit that from the blurb I was expecting it to be set in something like the 1890s. It wasn't attracting me, and it attracts me even less hearing it was set in the 1950s. Yuk.

    1. It definitely has an older feeling; I recall in the first book it took me a while to realize it was post-WWII. I take it you don't care much for the 50s? :) It's a decade I tend to forget ever existed, but the more I read, the more I see there was some interesting stuff happening then.

      The books may not be your style, but I think the series is very well done.

  2. Sounds interesting. A 12-year old sleuth in an adult mystery is a bit strange. I have to admit, reading the blurb with the names and voyage I also thought the time setting to precede the 1950s. I forget that air travel was still not wide spread or super popular then.

    Are these current productions? Or do I start looking in used bookstores?

    1. This book is the latest, and pretty recently out. But the series has been going long enough to find the early ones in used bookstores (or your library).

    2. Cool. I'll check the library.


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