Alan Bradley’s THE GRAVE’S A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE (FLAVIA DE LUCE #9), narrated by Jayne Entwistle

As so many readers do, I love Flavia, so was very happy to get hold of this volume. I heard it on audiobook, so my experiences may have been a little different from those who actually read a hard copy. I agree the plot was a bit thin at times, and yes, it made no sense that Mr. Nightingale (the undertaker) would actually murder Orlando because his funeral business was going bust. Especially as he really didn’t need to. From what I was able to glean, Orlando had come back to the riverbank, to the place where he’d tipped the poisoned chalice into the river two years before. Finally feeling remorse at his responsibility for the deaths of four people (including his father, who probably knew what was going on, and sacrificed himself to the hangman’s noose to save his irresponsible and feckless son) Orlando actually swallowed the cyanide BEFORE Nightingale pushed him into the river, causing him to drown (as the cyanide had not yet taken effect.)

So the cause of Orlando’s death was unnecessarily silly. OTOH, I liked the fact that Flavia is beginning to grow up, and I also liked Dogger’s character development. It made absolute sense to me that with the death of his old master (Flavia’s father) to whom he acted as valet, he should now embark on a more interesting phase of his life. I loved the idea of the detective agency, and thought it was marvelous that Flavia generously included all her relatives in the enterprise, except for eldest sister Ophelia/Feely, who is leaving home to become a married lady.

As this volume gave me several enjoyable hours, I would rate it at four stars.

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