Alan Bradley, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
It’s Christmas at Buckshaw, and Flavia de Luce is determined to use her chemical knowledge to capture Father Christmas, proving that he really exists once and for all. But her holiday plans must take a backseat when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw with movie star Phyllis Wyvern in tow. Flavia is fascinated by the spectacle and quickly insinuates herself into the proceedings. She is especially interested in Phyllis Wyvern, who turns out to be hiding several secrets under her glamorous façade. When Phyllis is found strangled by a length of film, Flavia once again investigates in hopes of discovering the killer. But with the entire film crew and half of Bishop’s Lacey snowed in at Buckshaw, everyone is a suspect — which makes this case Flavia’s most difficult and dangerous one yet.
This is yet another enjoyable outing for Flavia de Luce, and the festive Christmas atmosphere is an added bonus. The mystery plot is a bit underdeveloped, in my opinion, with a solution that basically comes out of nowhere. But for me, it was more interesting to read about the film crew and all its internal drama, as well as the townspeople’s response to having celebrities in their midst. I also enjoyed reading more about Flavia’s strained familial relationships, which finally seem to be loosening up a bit. Fans of the series should enjoy this installment despite the weak mystery plot.