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Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

by Alan Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Flavia de Luce (8)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8489017,909 (3.85)137
"Hailed as "a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes" by The Boston Globe, Flavia de Luce returns in the much anticipated new mystery novel from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley. 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. Acclaim for Alan Bradley's beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Award, and Arthur Ellis Award "If ever there were a sleuth who's bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it's Flavia de Luce."--USA Today "[Flavia] is as addictive as dark chocolate."--Daily Mail "Flavia de Luce is still the world's greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth."--The Seattle Times"-- "From a bucolic English town in the countryside with a quirky cast and a surprisingly lethal underbelly, the beloved amateur detective Flavia de Luce returns in a dazzling mystery from bestselling author Alan Bradley"--… (more)
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» See also 137 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
This one is my least favorite in the series. It's a bit darker - not as much whimsey. ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
Like most of the reviewers, I'm delighted to have Flavia de Luce's distinctive voice back again, and happy to have her back on the turf of her crumbling ancestral home. But I'm surprised to find so much joyful enthusiasm for this particular story, which-- Flavia's charming if increasingly self-conscious persona aside--I was disappointed to find aimless in plot, thin of character interaction or development, and needlessly, even cruelly, bleak. Bradley apparently has but two aims with this book, which are to signal 1) that Flavia's childhood, such as it was, is coming to an end, and 2) that coping with that is even harder for him, and will be harder for us, than we realize. He points us to the sad experience of another beloved child literary character as a clue. Deciphering that message was the only real puzzle of the book, and once I figured it out, I was pretty sure the ending was going to make me annoyed. I was right.

Flavia returns home from her brief stint at a Canadian boarding school to find only the faithful and sage Dogger waiting for her, with the news that her father is gravely ill. Colonel de Luce remains in hospital, and so is absent from the whole of the murder mystery that follows, as is Flavia's friend the vicar and several of the other reliable adults in Flavia's life, with Feely, Daphne, Dieter, and even Inspector Hewitt making only brief appearances.
While it's refreshing to see Flavia developing satisfying female friendship with her former chemistry teacher and with Cynthia Richards, the vicar's wife, the reduction of all of the familiar cast except Dogger to shadowy figures feels rather barren. Flavia herself seems to spend more time as a jaded 18 year old than a lonely 12 year old. The strange gush of maternal feeling twelve year old Flavia seems to periodically feel for the ridiculous Undine character seems out of character for anyone her age, let alone the fiercely independent and unsentimental Flavia, and is hopefully little more than another clumsy and temporary device to show that she herself is leaving childhood for adolescence. (But since Bradley signals in many ways his reluctance to have the series go forward without an enfant terrible, maybe I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed that he doesn't consign Flavia to foster-motherhood at 12 or 13 in order to focus on the younger, unappealing Undine.)

Much to her relief, Flavia quickly stumbles on both the corpse of a master woodcarver, and a local story of romance and tragic death some years earlier. At the center of the romantic story is a mysteriously dead author and children's poet, whose stories and verses about the charming ways and thrilling adventures of his toddler son are read at bedtime all over the world.
Bradley does a wonderful job of catching the tone of AA Milne's verse from "When We Were Very Young" and "Now We Are Six" in original rhymes of his own, while his description of fictitious illustrations bring those of Milne's own son, Christopher Robin, forcefully to mind. As with the real Christopher Robin, the author's adult son had been estranged from the father who made a living telling stories of his innocent youth, resenting his father's coldness and even abusiveness once the son had grown past the age that readers were interested in.

I was surprised and a little annoyed at the transparent hijacking of the Milne family story almost whole cloth--with the additional inclusion of allegations of violent physical abuse, which may appear to be fictitious (but which probably still would not have been included if Christopher Robin's daughter were still alive). Aside from being exploitative, it seemed like a rather cheap way to build a plot, among other objections.

But then it occurred to me that Bradley's Flavia was about to do to Bradley, what Christopher Robin and his fictional reflection, Crispian, had 'done' to their fathers: Grow up, and leave them (as they saw it) with nothing charming to write about. The heartbreak of the fictional son (deftly drawn by Bradley as a combination of the real Christopher Robin Milne and a gentlemanly Boo Radley) and the ruthless condemnation of the fictional author father, take on a sort of disturbing poignancy when seen as Bradleys reflections on his relationship with his own character.

If that really is Bradley's fear, though, I devoutly I hope he'll get over it quickly now and do justice the beauty, power, tragi-comedy and vulnerability of a real girl entering into the crucible of adolescence. Flavia has been treading water for the last two books, since the originally planned six books cycle concluded with "The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches". If the remaining four books are to succeed, Flavia must be allowed to evolve, as children do, in both body and soul.
In this book, Bradley, still couldn't quite bring himself to move Flavia meaningfully forward to a new stage of development. While he brought Flavia only three months forward in time, he ages her anywhere from a year to six years depending on the moment. He isn't willing (or fears that we aren't) for her to either settle into a new social status at home, or to do something completely different. So instead he takes us on a quiet, and repetitive bicycle tour of most of Flavia's old haunts, plus a couple of jaunts to London in a new sleuthing partnership with her former chemistry teacher, while Flavia tries on different ages and attitudes, all under the shadow of Dogger's pronouncement that "life is changing, and not necessarily for the better."
The change that comes at the end is bitterly disappointing, and strikes me as somewhat near trope. But for better or worse the conclusion ensures that the next story will have to feature an altered Flavia.
So I guess I'm crossing my fingers that, unlike the fathers in this play within a play, Bradley will be able to let her grow up naturally, and stick by her side while she does it.
3 stars, and only recommended for die-hard Flavia fans.

P.s., I seriously disliked the narrator of this series, Jayne Entwistle. She was SO saccharinely sweet, it made me feel sick by the end of the book. Her constant attempts to make Flavia seem to grin widely, at every other sentence, was not only incredibly annoying in its self, but also completely unnecessary to the plot, or the character's feelings. I will not be listening to another Bradley novel on audiobook if this woman continues the narrations. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
During this odd time of "isolation" due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have chosen to listen to books as I putter around my house. In the voice of an 11/12-year-old English girl in the 1950's you can put yourself beside Flavia and solve the mysteries that we may remember from growing up with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys but with the sass of an absolutely brilliant young lady old beyond her years. I have not read them in order and don't feel I have suffered, even a little bit. For me, there is not only the joy of her English accent but she is a well-read 11-year-old and her choice of linguistics is superb! ( )
  whybehave2002 | Mar 27, 2020 |
Flavia is by far my favorite mystery gal. She's full of spunk and wit and is no stranger to mishaps. In this installment of the series, we find her newly returned from Canada to find that things have changed in the De Luce home. Flavia is on the cusp of growing up and is experiencing all of the awkwardness that accompanies that time in our lives. The mystery is, as always, unique and full of intrigue and plot twists. This one was slightly easier to guess the outcome than previous books. However, the sad cliffhanger at the end was completely unexpected.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy I received in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
Flavia is at Buckshaw solving a murder once again. Despite certain upheavals in her personal life, which we won't name here, Flavia should be able to solve such a murder in her sleep. And presumably Mr. Bradley should be able to effectively write about Flavia solving such a murder in his sleep. Unfortunately, this book is a hot mess, as my teenager would say. The story lacks focus and the murder is solved largely 'off-stage', although the murder investigation is supposed to be the focus of the book. When all is revealed, we realize that we were not given several pieces of the puzzle going along. Agatha Christie is somewhere choking on her tea.

There has been a sharp drop off in the quality of writing in this series over the last couple of books and I hear that the next in the series doesn't get any better. So now I'm becoming concerned. Has the author become bored and is just cranking them out to finish his contract? Is the publisher rushing him? Is his mind failing him? (I'm reminded of another favorite author whose final books suffered in a similar way from her battle with dementia.) I don't expect or want every book in the series to be carbon copies, but I do expect them to make, you know, sense. ( )
  tiasreads | Dec 11, 2019 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Bradleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heikinheimo, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Shirley - then, now, and always
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The winter rain slashes at my face like icy razor blades, but I don't care.
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1623, Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. — Shakespeare, ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’
I do not encourage early morning chirpiness, even in those whom I know and love. It is generally a sign of a sloppy mind, and is not to be encouraged.
He gave me the kind of skeptical look I expect to see from Saint Peter on Judgement Day.
Books make the soul float.
The world is going to Hell in a linguistic handbag.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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