A mystery with an 11 year old genius as the detective can be annoying. And it is, sometimes. Mostly it wasn’t Flavia’s unnatural intelligence and love of chemistry that put me off. Child geniuses are dime-a-dozen in fiction. Lots of people seem to love her, but I could never decide if I liked her or not. The dynamics of the family definitely put me off. The absent though present father. The cycle of prank and revenge with the sisters I found especially tiresome. Am I supposed to be amused that Flavia poisons her sister’s lipstick? Cuz I’m not. And, of course, no adult knows about this, so all the punishment is meted out by her sister, whom Flavia will then get back at. Honestly, they could all use a stretch behind bars.
I think the issue is I just didn’t find the story believable. A murder takes place below her window and sharp-eared Flavia hears nothing? Also, it seems to have taken 3-4 hours for the victim to die, though it shouldn’t have as far as I can tell. The idea that the criminal still had the stamp he stole as a school boy and hadn’t found a way to get rid of in the intervening decades is also strange. A stamp that’s almost unique, incredibly valuable, and his friend becomes a shady stamp dealer in America. In all that time, they never find a buyer? Writing this out helps me though to realize how irritated I was with the plot. In mysteries so often one keeps reading because you want to know who, how and why. There were also times I just didn’t get why Flavia did what she did in her investigation. At one point, late in the game, she goes to find an old gravestone. She already knew about the person’s death, what did she expect or hope to learn from the stone?
It was his first one, so I might give the next one a try. It wasn’t as irritating as the woman who microwaved a frozen cake. And I do love the titles.