Make some space, Nancy Drew – there’s a new kid detective in town! She is described on the author's website as, “eleven years old and passionate about poisons – although she’s almost as interested in old churchyards and the fascinating chemistry of decay. In the fully-equipped laboratory of her late Uncle Tarquin, Flavia brings to light mysteries that everyone else wishes had been left buried.”
World, meet Flavia de Luce.
The Flavia de Luce novels are currently comprised of 11 books, all featuring de Luce as a youth chemist with a keen eye for solving crimes. Author Alan Bradley introduced her to the world in 2009, thanks to the encouragement of his wife. A recent retiree University of Saskatchewan, Bradley was devoting much of his newfound time to writing, which included the publication of two prior books entitled Ms. Holmes of Baker Street and The Shoebox Bible.
While listening to an evening radio, wife Shirley Bradley heard about the Debut Dagger fiction competition. She remembered a minor character that was emerging in Bradley’s current work, “the girl on the camp stool.” 15 pages and a synopsis later, Bradley submitted his work to the competition. In June of 2007, two judges from the contest contacted Bradley’s agent in Canada to discuss the possibilities of publication. Those first 15 pages would become the start of de Luce’s first adventure through the cucumber patch, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
The book opens with Flavia, trapped in a wardrobe, bound and gagged by her comically mean older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia. Flavia spends the first page making a smart escape, freeing herself from the silk scarves around her ankles and face. Once the knots are worked out, she manufactures a picklock out of a wire hanger and frees herself from the closet. This is just one example of the new young adult detective who uses facts and logic to solve the mysteries around her.
These books are internationally available online and have been hailed with rave reviews. With a skew of reviews that list the book as 4/5 stars and higher, this next generation of mystery novels is bound to inspire a whole new group of detectives.